In this free-jazz gangster film, reformed killer “Phoenix” Tetsu drifts around Japan, awaiting his own execution until he’s called back to Tokyo to help battle a rival gang. Seijun Suzuki’s “barrage of aestheticised violence, visual gags, [and] mind-warping color effects” got him in more trouble with Nikkatsu studio heads, who had ordered him to “play it straight this time.” Instead he gave them equal parts Russ Meyer, Samuel Fuller, and Nagisa Oshima. —The Criterion Collection
Seijun Suzuki (鈴木 清順, Suzuki Seijun?), born Seitaro Suzuki (鈴木 清太郎 Suzuki Seitarō) on May 24, 1923, is a Japanese filmmaker, actor, and screenwriter. His films are renowned by film enthusiasts worldwide for their jarring visual style, irreverent humour, nihilistic cool and entertainment-over-logic sensibility. He made 40 predominately B-movies for the Nikkatsu Company between 1956 and 1967, working most prolifically in the yakuza genre. His increasingly surreal style began to draw the ire of the studio in 1963 and culminated in his ultimate dismissal for what is now regarded his magnum opus, Branded to Kill (1967), starring notable collaborator Joe Shishido. Suzuki successfully sued the studio for wrongful dismissal but was blacklisted for 10 years. As an independent filmmaker he won critical acclaim and a Japanese Academy Award for his Taishō Trilogy, Zigeunerweisen (1980), Kagero-za (1981) and Yumeji (1991).
His films remained widely unknown outside of Japan until a series… read more
A candy coated take on yakuza conventions in this strange blending of genres from Seijun Suzuki that didn't quite live up to its reputation for me Amazing use of the wide screen form and a spectacular swath of colour didn't quite make up for the dispassionate performances or sense of parody.
Following roles in the Nikkatsu action films of the 60s, Hideaki Nitani would become known for TV work in the 70s and 80s.
Also: The adaptation Jafar Panahi never got to direct, Seijun Suzuki on DVD and Blu-ray and more.