When a mysterious stranger muscles into two rival yakuza gangs, Tokyo’s underworld explodes with violence. Youth of the Beast was a breakthrough for director Seijun Suzuki, introducing the flamboyant colors, hallucinatory images, and striking compositions that would become his trademark.
This film is not currently playing on MUBI but 30 other great films are. See what's now showing
Suzuki chews up and spits out a manic concoction of Kurosawa, 50s B-Movie bliss and best of the Hollywood Western. Don't be fooled by the frenetic pace and editing, there is a carefully honed, coherent vision here from the rough n' ready violence to the sharp, kaleidoscopic photography. The source material may feel a little familiar, but man, Suzuki takes the Yakuza genre and doesn't look back.
Better than Tokyo Drifter for me. While both films display Suzuki's flair I think the brutality and personal tragedies definitely shine more in this piece. The violence in contrast with a setting that feels like a piece of pop art all seems to come from a very angry vindictive place can't help but think it reflects Suzuki's state of mind apparently being in constant state of agitation during his run at Nikkatsu.
With blaring, glaring, Kentonian glam gilding its thousand yard stares and cross-crossing snares, Youth of the Beast packs more and maybe better bang than its more storied sequels in the hybrid genre Suzuki was crashing together as he raced along through the 1960s.
Stylish and an interesting neo-noir, but one that doesn't quite flow as well as some of the better examples of noir in post-war Japan. Even so, it is at least fun to watch and looks great. I will be exploring more Suzuki in the near future.