A hit-man, with a fetish for sniffing boiling rice, fumbles his latest job, putting him into conflict with his treacherous wife, with a mysterious woman eager for death and with the phantom-like hit-man known only as Number One.
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Branded to Kill is an immaculate film which once more shows that cinematic geniuses can easily overcome the confinements of a budget. The narrative, although at times fragmentary, is incredibly well set up visually. The visuals themselves are lush and the finale is amazeballs. Furthermore it almost seems like a theoretical piece about cinema itself (see the torture scene among others).
I can't believe Suzuki was fired and banned from scenes for this film. It's marvelous! The camera movement together with some very stylish visuals is impressive, the soundtrack is great. Noir and avant-garde. Unique.
Branded to Kill takes the ultra-cool final shootout of Tokyo Drifter, and makes the similar action more prevalent, and the pace more energetic. It also now has a few more unique character details (Shishido's sexual arousal when smelling boiling rice, his relationships with women, the humorous standoff scenes with #1.) Motivations are lost at times in its set-piece squall, but its verve and style are done grandly.
Jarmusch and Tarantino avidly paid homage to Suzuki and his satire of yakuza fiction with it's B-movie kitsch, problematic representations of women, incomprehensible plots and an overwhelming sense of anarchy. On one level, it seems like a Russ Meyer film, yet on another, akin to Dr. Strangelove. What a maverick.
The star of the film, Mr. Chipmunk cheeks is the #3 ranked killer in a crime organization. Lots of people try to kill him. He falls for a woman who hates men. They can’t decide whether to kill each other. The #1 killer comes after him. It’s a bit existentialist. The photography is very dynamic. I would recommend this because it’s artsy fartsy with action and nudity. If you like that type of thing.
Pretty cool classic yakuza film at its time. It was a shame Suzuki quickly got fired from the studio because his styles were too far-fetched but still all that fitted well to the film's plot. Violent, erotic, unique, and brilliant - that's what made it Suzuki's masterpiece. I love this more than the others I've seen by him. (Oh, that sink murder also influenced Jarmusch to do GHOST DOG decades later.)
It's a real gem and a stunning, wild movie. Precise black-and-white photography combined with a confrontation of camera movements and stillstands, passages with feverish atmosphere created by the use of music, sound and film editing.