Branded to Kill

Infobox_Film
name = Branded to Kill


caption = Original Japanese theatrical poster
director = Seijun Suzuki
producer = Kaneo Iwai
writer = Hachiro GuryuHachiro Guryu, or Group of Eight, is the joint pen name of Seijun Suzuki, Takeo Kimura, Atsushi Yamatoya, Yōzō Tanaka, Chūsei Sone, Yutaka Okada, Seiichirō Yamaguchi and Yasuaki Hangai.
cite web
author = 川勝正幸
title = ピストルオペラ Review
publisher = テレビ東京 Cinema Street
year = 2001
url = http://www.tv-tokyo.co.jp/telecine/cinema/pistol_o/review.html
language = Japanese
accessdate = 2007-10-24
quote = 具流八郎(鈴木+木村威夫+大和屋竺+田中陽造+曽根+岡田裕+山口清一郎+榛谷泰明)
]
starring = Joe Shishido
Koji Nanbara
Annu Mari Mariko Ogawa
music = Naozumi Yamamoto
cinematography = Kazue Nagatsuka
editing = Mutsuo Tanji
distributor = Nikkatsu
released = June 15, 1967
runtime = 98 minutes
country = Japan
language = Japanese
budget = JPY 20 million
website =
preceded_by =
followed_by = "Pistol Opera"
amg_id = 1:139678
imdb_id = 0061882
nihongo|"Branded to Kill"|殺しの烙印|"Koroshi no rakuin" is a 1967 Japanese yakuza film directed by Seijun Suzuki and starring Joe Shishido, Koji Nanbara, Annu Mari and Mariko Ogawa. It was a low budget, production line number for the Nikkatsu Company. The story follows Goro Hanada in his life as a contract killer. He falls in love with a woman named Misako, who recruits him for a seemingly impossible mission. When the mission fails, he becomes hunted by the phantom Number One Killer, whose methods threaten his sanity as much as his life.

The studio was unhappy with the original script and called in Suzuki to rewrite and direct it at the last minute. Suzuki came up with many of his ideas the night before or on the set while filming, and welcomed ideas from his collaborators. He gave the film a satirical, anarchic and visually eclectic bent which the studio had previously warned him away from. After its release Suzuki was fired for making "movies that make no sense and no money". Suzuki successfully sued Nikkatsu with support from student groups, like-minded filmmakers and the general public and caused a major controversy through the Japanese film industry. Suzuki was blacklisted and did not make another feature film for 10 years but became a counterculture hero.

The film drew a strong following which expanded overseas in the 1980s and has established itself as a cult classic. Film critics and enthusiasts now regard it as an absurdist masterpiece. It has been cited as an influence by filmmakers such as Jim Jarmusch, John Woo, Chan-wook Park and Quentin Tarantino. Thirty-four years after "Branded to Kill", Suzuki filmed "Pistol Opera" (2001) with Nikkatsu, a loose sequel to the former. The company has also hosted two major retrospectives spotlighting his career.

Plot

Goro Hanada, the Japanese underworld's third-ranked hitman, and his wife, Mami, fly into Tokyo and are met by Kasuga, a formerly ranked hitman turned taxi driver. Kasuga petitions Hanada to assist him in breaking back into the profession. Hanada agrees and the three go to a club owned by the yakuza boss Michihiko Yabuhara. The two men are hired to escort a client from Sagami Beach to Nagano. After the meeting, Yabuhara covertly seduces Hanada's wife. Hanada and Kasuga pick up a car designated for the job which unexpectedly has a corpse in the back seat. They dispose of the body, then meet the client and proceed towards their destination. En route Hanada spots an ambush. He dispatches a number of gunmen while Kasuga panics and flails about in hysterics. Foaming at the mouth, Kasuga charges an ambusher, Koh, the fourth-ranked hitman, and they kill each other. Hanada leaves the client to secure Koh's car but hears three gunshots and rushes back to find the client is safe and three additional ambushers have been shot cleanly through the forehead. At a second ambush, Hanada kills more gunmen and sets Sakura, the second-ranked hitman, on fire. Sakura madly rushes towards the client but is shot dead by him. On his way home Hanada's car breaks down. Misako, a mysterious woman with a deathwish, stops and gives him a ride. At home, he has rough sex with his wife, fueled by his obsession with sniffing boiling rice.

. Her apartment is decorated with dead butterflies which have been interpreted as symbolizing obsessive love.cite web
last = Teo
first = Stephen
title = Seijun Suzuki: Authority in Minority
publisher = Sense of Cinema
year = 2000
month = July
url = http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/festivals/00/8/miff/suzuki.html
accessdate = 2007-04-16
] ]

Yabuhara hires Hanada to kill four men, the first three being a customs officer, an ocularist and a jewellery dealer. Hanada snipes the first from behind a billboard's animatronic cigarette lighter, shoots the second from a basement up through a pipe drain when the latter leans over the sink and, ordered to finish quickly, blasts his way into the third's office and escapes on an advertising balloon. Misako then appears at his door and offers him a nearly impossible contract to kill a foreigner, which he cannot refuse having just been told the plan. During the job a butterfly lands on the barrel of his rifle causing him to miss his target and kill an innocent bystander. Misako tells him that he will now lose his rank and be killed. Hanada makes plans to leave the country but is shot by his wife who then sets fire to their apartment and flees. His belt buckle, however, stopped the bullet and he escapes the building. He finds Misako and they go to her apartment. After alternating failed attempts by him to seduce her and them to kill each other she succumbs to his advances when he promises to kill her. Afterwards, he finds he cannot as he has fallen in love with her. In a state of confusion he wanders the streets and passes out on the side of the road. The next day he finds his wife at Yabuhara's club. She tries to seduce him, then fakes hysteria and tells him Yabuhara paid her to kill him and that the three men he had killed had stolen from Yabuhara's diamond smuggling operation and the foreigner was an investigator sent by the supplier. Unmoved, Hanada kills her, gets drunk and waits for Yabuhara to return. Yabuhara arrives already dead with a bullet hole through the centre of his forehead.

Hanada returns to Misako's apartment where a film projector has been set up. It depicts Misako bound and tortured, then his former client who directs him to a breakwater the following day where he will be killed. Hanada submits to the demand but kills the killers instead. The former client arrives and announces himself as the legendary Number One Killer. He says he will kill Hanada but, in thanks for the work he has done, is only giving a warning at present. Hanada holes up in Misako's apartment and Number One begins an extended siege, taunting Hanada with threatening phone calls and forbidding him to leave the apartment. Eventually, Number One moves in with the now exhausted and inebriated Hanada under the pretext that he is deciding how to kill him. They agree to a temporary truce and set times to eat, sleep and, later, to link arms everywhere they go. Number One suggests they eat out one day and then disappears during the meal. At the apartment, Hanada finds a note and another film from Number One stating he will be waiting at a gymnasium with Misako. Hanada waits at the gymnasium but Number One does not show. As a bedraggled Hanada rises to leave, a tape recorder switches on explaining, "This is the way Number One works", he exhausts you and then kills you. Hanada puts a headband across his forehead and climbs into a boxing ring. Number One appears and shoots him. The headband stops the bullet and Hanada returns fire. Number One slumps to the ground but manages to shoot him a few times before dying. Hanada leaps and staggers around the ring declaring himself the new Number One. Misako enters the arena and, crazed, he instinctively shoots her dead then falls from the ring.Director Seijun Suzuki intentionally left it ambiguous whether Hanada lives or dies at the end of the film. However, the character does return in "Pistol Opera".
cite book
last = Schilling
first = Mark
title = The Yakuza Movie Book: A Guide to Japanese Gangster Films
url = http://www.stonebridge.com/YAKUZA/yakuza.html
publisher = Stone Bridge Press
year = 2003
month = September
id = ISBN 1-880656-76-0
pages = pp. 98–104
]

Cast

* Joe Shishido as Goro Hanada, the Number Three Killer: a hitman with a fetish for the smell of boiling rice. He is gainfully employed by the yakuza until a butterfly lands on the barrel of his rifle during a "Devil's job". He misses his target and is marked for death—then descends into a world of alcohol and paranoia. Shishido has been called the face of Suzuki's films, owing in part to their frequent collaborations, this being among the most prominent. After middling success in Nikkatsu melodramas he underwent plastic surgery, enlarging his cheeks several sizes. He returned to tremendous success as a heavy and, soon thereafter, a star.cite web
last = Sharp
first = Jasper
coauthors = Nutz, Stefan
title = Interview: Jo Shishido and Toshio Masuda
publisher = Midnight Eye
year = 2005
month = August
url = http://www.midnighteye.com/interviews/shishido_masuda.shtml
accessdate = 2007-04-15
]
* Koji Nanbara as the Number One Killer: the legendary hitman whose existence remains a subject of debate. Incognito, he employs the yakuza to provide bodyguards. Later, he reappears with the intention of killing Hanada, first trapping him in an apartment, then moving in with him, before their final showdown in a public gymnasium.
* Isao Tamagawa as Michihiko Yabuhara: the yakuza boss that hires Hanada and seduces his wife. Upon the discovery that his diamond smuggling operation has been burgled, he employs Hanada to execute the guilty parties then adds him to the list when he flubs the job. His final appearance is with a bullet hole in his head.
* Annu Mari as Misako Nakajo: the femme fatale with a penchant for dead butterflies and birds. She picks Hanada up in her open top convertible when his car breaks down in the rain. Under Yabuhara's direction she enlists him to kill a foreigner. She attempts to kill Hanada but falls in love with him, which instigates her capture and use as bait by Number One. Mari has said she was experiencing suicidal urges at the time she first read the script and the character captivated her. "I loved her name, but it was her first line 'My dream is to die' that had a profound impact on me. It was like lightning."
* Mariko Ogawa as Mami Hanada: Hanada's wife who has a predilection towards walking around the house nude. Shortly after meeting Yabuhara she enters an affair with him. When her husband's career sours she attempts mariticide and flees—to be confronted later at Yabuhara's club.
* Hiroshi Minami as Gihei Kasuga: formerly a ranked hitman who lost his nerve and took to drinking. After introducing Hanada to Yabuhara he joins the former in a dangerous chauffeur mission. His nerves get the better of him and he experiences a short-lived mental breakdown.

Production

The Nikkatsu Company conceived "Branded to Kill" as a low-budget hitman film, a subgenre of the studio's yakuza-oriented movies.cite book
last = D.
first = Chris
authorlink = Chris D.
title = Outlaw Masters of Japanese Film
publisher = I.B. Tauris
year = 2005
id = ISBN 1-84511-086-2
url = http://www.ibtauris.com/display.asp?K=9781845110864&sf_01=CAUTHOR&sf_02=CTITLE&st_04=+9781845110864&sf_03=KEYWORD&sf_04=identifier&m=1&dc=1
pages = p. 142
chapter = Seijun Suzuki
] Their standard B movie shooting schedule was applied, one week for pre-production, 25 days to shoot and three days for post-production. The budget was set at approximately 20 million yen.cite video
people = Suzuki, Seijun (Interviewee)
year = 1999
title = Tokyo Drifter interview
url = http://www.criterion.com/asp/release.asp?id=39
medium = DVD
publisher = The Criterion Collection
] Shortly before filming began, with the release date already set, the script was deemed "inappropriate" by the head office and contract director Seijun Suzuki was brought in to do a rewrite. Studio head Kyusaku Hori told Suzuki he had had to read it twice before he understood it. Suzuki suggested they drop the script but was ordered to proceed.cite web
last = Ueno
first = Kohshi
title = Suzuki Battles Nikkatsu
publisher = Cinefiles
url = http://www.mip.berkeley.edu/cgi-bin/cine_doc_detail.pl/cine_img/?15717?15717?1
pages = p. 8
work = The Films of Seijun Suzuki
accessdate = 2007-04-02
] The rewrite was done with his frequent collaborator Takeo Kimura and six assistant directors, including Atsushi Yamatoya (who also played Killer Number Four). The eight men had worked under the joint pen name Hachiro Guryu ("Group of Eight") since the mid 1960s.cite book
last = Hasumi
first = Shigehiko
title = De woestijn onder de kersenbloesem—The Desert under the Cherry Blossoms
publisher = Uitgeverij Uniepers Abcoude
year = 1991
month = January
id = ISBN 90-6825-090-6
pages = pp. 7–25
chapter = Een wereld zonder seizoenen—A World Without Seasons
] Nikkatsu was building leading man Joe Shishido into a star and assigned him to the film. They specified that the script was to be written with this aim. The film also marks Shishido's first nude scene. Suzuki originally wanted Kiwako Taichi, a new talent from the famous theatre troupe Bungakuza, for the female lead but she took a part in another film.cite video
people = Suzuki, Seijun (Interviewee)
year = 1999
title = Branded to Kill interview
url = http://www.criterion.com/asp/release.asp?id=38
medium = DVD
publisher = The Criterion Collection
] Instead, Suzuki selected Annu Mari, another new actress who had been working in Nikkatsu's music halls.cite web
last = Brown
first = Don
title = Suzuki Seijun: Still Killing
publisher = Ryuganji.net
url = http://www.ryuganji.net/news/index.php?entry=entry061023-085912
work = Japan Film News
accessdate = 2007-04-03
] In casting the role of Hanada's wife, Suzuki selected Mariko Ogawa from outside of the studio as none of the contract actresses would do nude scenes.

Suzuki did not use storyboards and disliked pre-planning. He preferred to come up with ideas either the night before or on the set as he felt that the only person who should know what is going to happen is the director. He also felt that it was sudden inspiration that made the picture. An example is the addition of the Number Three Killer's rice-sniffing habit. Suzuki explained that he wanted to present a quintessentially "Japanese" killer, "If he were Italian, he'd get turned on by macaroni, right?"cite book
last = Richie
first = Donald
authorlink = Donald Richie
title = A Hundred Years of Japanese Film: A Concise History, with a Selective Guide to DVDs and Videos
publisher = Kodansha International
year = 2005
id = ISBN 4-77002-995-0
url = http://www.kodansha-intl.com/books/html/en/9784770029959.html
pages = pp. 180–181
] Suzuki has commended Shishido on his similar drive to make the action scenes as physical and interesting as possible. In directing his actors, Suzuki let them play their roles as they saw fit and only intervened when they went "off track". For nude scenes the actors wore "maebari", or adhesive strips, over their genitals in accordance with censorship practices. The film was edited in one day, a task made easy by Suzuki's method of shooting only the necessary footage. He had picked up the habit during his years working as an assistant director for Shochiku when film stock remained sparse after the war.

tyle

Like many of its yakuza film contemporaries, "Branded to Kill" shows the influence of the James Bond films and film noir,cite book
last = Hughes
first = Howard
title = Crime Wave: The Filmgoers' Guide to the Great Crime Movies
publisher = I.B. Tauris
year = 2006
id = ISBN 1-84511-219-9
url = http://www.ibtauris.com/ibtauris/display.asp?K=9781845112196
pages = p. xvii
chapter = Criminal Record: An Introduction to Crime Movies
] cite web
last = Trifonova
first = Temenuga
title = Cinematic Cool: Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Samouraï
publisher = Senses of Cinema
year = 2006
month = March
url = http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/cteq/06/39/samourai.html
accessdate = 2007-04-11
] though the film's conventional genre basis was combined with satire, kabuki stylistics and a pop art aesthetic.cite web
last = Sharp
first = Jasper
title = Review: Branded to Kill
publisher = Midnight Eye
year = 2001
month = March
url = http://www.midnighteye.com/reviews/brandtok.shtml
accessdate = 2007-04-11
] It was further set apart from its peers, and Seijun Suzuki's previous films, through its gothic sensibilities, unusual atonal score and what artist and academic Philip Brophy called a "heightened otherness".cite web
last = Brophy
first = Philip
authorlink = Philip Brophy
title = Catalogue notes for screenings
work = A Lust For Violence: Seijun Suzuki
publisher = Philip Brophy
year = 2000
url = http://www.philipbrophy.com/projects/suz/technical.html
accessdate = 2007-09-03
] The result has been alternately ascribed as a work of surrealism, absurdism, the avant garde and included in the Japanese New Wave movement,cite book
last = Desser
first = David
title = Eros Plus Massacre: An Introduction to the Japanese New Wave Cinema
publisher = Indiana University Press
year = 1988
month = May
id = ISBN 0-25331-961-7
url = http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=21571
pages = p. 11
chapter = Introduction
] though not through any stated intention of its director. Suzuki employed a wide variety of techniques and claimed his singular focus was to make the film as entertaining as possible.

Genre conventions are satirized and mocked throughout the film.cite book
last = Rayns
first = Tony
authorlink = Tony Rayns
title = Branded to Thrill: The Delirious Cinema of Suzuki Seijun
publisher = Institute of Contemporary Arts
year = 1994
id = ISBN 0-905263-44-8
pages = p. 42
chapter = 1967: Branded to Kill
] In American noirs, heroes, or anti-heroes, typically strive to be the best in their field. Here the process was formalized into a rankings system obsessed over by its players.cite web
last = Taylor
first = Rumsey
title = Branded to Kill
publisher = notcoming.com
year = 2004
month = July
url = http://www.notcoming.com/reviews/brandedtokill/
accessdate = 2007-10-01
] The femme fatale—a noir staple—Misako, does not simply entice the protagonist and bring the threat of death but obsesses him and is obsessed with all things death herself. She tries to kill him, wants to kill herself and surrounds herself with dead things. Hanada's libido is as present as that of the protagonists of similar films of the period, such as James Bond, though perversely exaggerated. Reviewer Rumsey Taylor likened Hanada's boiled rice sniffing fetish to Bond's "shaken, not stirred" martini order. The film also deviates from the opening killer-for-hire scenario to touch on such varied subgenres as psychosexual romance, American Gothic thriller and "Odd Couple" slapstick.

The film industry is a subject of satire as well. For example, Japanese censorship often involved masking prohibited sections of the screen. Here Suzuki preemptively masked his own compositions but animated them and incorporated them into the film's design. In the story, after Hanada finds he is unable to kill Misako he wanders the streets in a state of confusion. The screen is obscured by animated images with accompanying sounds associated to her. The effects contributed to the eclectic visual and sound design while signifying his obsessive love. Author Stephen Teo proposed that the antagonistic relationship between Hanada and Number One may have been analogous of Suzuki's relationship with studio president Kyusaku Hori. He compared Hanada's antagonizers to those who had been pressuring Suzuki to rein in his style over the previous two years. Teo cited Number One's sleeping with his eyes open and urinating where he sits, which the character explains as techniques one must master to become a "top professional."

The film was shot in black and white Nikkatsuscope (synonymous with CinemaScope at a 2.35:1 aspect ratio). Due to the wide frame, moving a character forward did not produce the dynamic effect Suzuki desired. Instead, he relied on spotlighting and chiaroscuro imagery to create excitement and suspense. Conventional framing and film grammar were disregarded in favour of spontaneous inspiration. In editing, Suzuki frequently abandoned continuity, favouring abstract jumps in time and space as he found it made the film more interesting. Critic David Chute suggested that Suzuki's stylistics had intensified—in seeming congruence with the studio's demands that he conform:

quote|You can see the director reusing specific effects and pointedly cranking them up a notch. In "Our Blood Will Not Allow It", the two battling brothers had a heart-to-heart in a car that was enveloped, just for the hell of it, in gorgeous blue moiré patterns of drenching rain. This 'lost at sea' effect is revived in "Branded to Kill" but there's no sound at all in this version of the scene, except for the gangsters' hushed voices, echoless, plotting some fresh betrayal in a movie-movie isolation chamber.cite book| last = Chute
first = David
title = Branded to Thrill: The Delirious Cinema of Suzuki Seijun
publisher = Institute of Contemporary Arts
year = 1994
id = ISBN 0-905263-44-8
pages = pp. 11–17
chapter = Branded to Thrill
]

Reception

"Branded to Kill" was released to Japanese theatres on June 15, 1967.cite web
title = 殺しの烙印
publisher = Japanese Movie Database
url = http://www.jmdb.ne.jp/1967/cq001780.htm
language = Japanese
accessdate = 2007-04-02
] The film was popularly received, especially among college students, but did not return a major audience. Nikkatsu Studios had been criticized for catering to rebellious youth audiences, a specialty of contract director Seijun Suzuki, whose films had grown increasingly anarchic through the 1960s. This had earned him a large following but it had also drawn the ire of studio head Kyusaku Hori.cite book
last = Sato
first = Tadao
authorlink = Tadao Sato
coauthors = Gregory Barrett (Translator)
title = Currents in Japanese Cinema
publisher = Kodansha International
year = 1982
id = ISBN 0-870115-07-3
pages = p. 221
chapter = Developments in the 1960s
(Available [http://www.mip.berkeley.edu/cgi-bin/cine_doc_detail.pl/cine_img/?15717?15717?1 online] , p. 4.)] cite book
last = Rayns
first = Tony
title = Branded to Thrill: The Delirious Cinema of Suzuki Seijun
publisher = Institute of Contemporary Arts
year = 1994
id = ISBN 0-905263-44-8
pages = p. 38
chapter = 1965: One Generation of Tattoos
] On April 25, 1968, Suzuki received a telephone call from a company secretary informing him that he would not be receiving his salary that month. Two of Suzuki's friends met with Hori the next day and were told, "Suzuki's films were incomprehensible, that they did not make any money and that Suzuki might as well give up his career as a director as he would not be making films for any other companies."

A student film society run by Kazuko Kawakita, the Cineclub Study Group, was planning to include "Branded to Kill" in a retrospective honouring Suzuki's works but Hori refused them and withdrew all of his films from circulation. With support from the Cineclub, similar student groups, fellow filmmakers and the general public—which included the picketing of the company's Hibiya offices and the formation of the Seijun Suzuki Joint Struggle Committee—Suzuki sued Nikkatsu for wrongful dismissal. During the three-and-a-half year trial the circumstances under which the film was made and Suzuki was fired came to light. He had been made into a scapegoat for the company's dire financial straits and was meant to serve as an example on the outset of an attempted company-wide restructuring. A settlement was reached on December 24, 1971, in the amount of one million yen, a fraction of his original claim, as well as a public apology from Hori. In a separate agreement "Branded to Kill" and his previous film, "Fighting Elegy", were donated to the Tokyo National Museum of Modern Art's Film Centre. The events turned Suzuki into a legend and shook the film world. "Branded to Kill", along with other of his films, played to "packed audiences who wildly applauded"cite web
last = Willemen
first = Paul
title = The Films of Seijun Suzuki
publisher = Cinefiles
url = http://www.mip.berkeley.edu/cgi-bin/cine_doc_detail.pl/cine_img/?15717?15717?1
pages = p. 1
work = The Films of Seijun Suzuki
accessdate = 2007-04-02
] at all-night revivals in and around Tokyo. However, Suzuki was blacklisted by the major studios and did not make another feature film until "A Tale of Sorrow and Sadness" (1977) ten years after "Branded to Kill". In the meantime, he subsisted on commercial and television work and writing books of essays.cite book
last=Rayns
first=Tony
title=Branded to Thrill: The Delirious Cinema of Suzuki Seijun
publisher = Institute of Contemporary Arts
year = 1994
id = ISBN 0-905263-44-8
pages = p. 46
chapter = Biography
]

"Branded to Kill" first reached international audiences in the 1980s, featuring in various film festivals and retrospectives dedicated wholly or partially to Suzuki,cite book
last = Schilling
first = Mark
title = No Borders, No Limits: Nikkatsu Action Cinema
publisher = FAB Press
year = 2007
id = ISBN 978-1-903254-43-1
url = http://www.fabpress.com/vsearch.php?CO=FAB080
pages = p. 9
] cite web
last = Rayns
first = Tony
title = Branded to Kill
publisher = Cinefiles
url = http://www.mip.berkeley.edu/cgi-bin/cine_doc_detail.pl/cine_img/?15666?15666?1
accessdate = 2007-04-03
] which was followed by home video releases in the late 1990s.cite web
last = Hampton
first = Howard
title = Four play - Japanese movie director Seijun Suzuki
publisher = Find Articles
url = http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0268/is_8_37/ai_54454977
accessdate = 2007-04-11
] It garnered a reputation as one of his most unconventional, revered Nikkatsu films and an international cult classic.cite web
last = Rosenbaum
first = Jonathan
authorlink = Jonathan Rosenbaum
title = Branded to Kill Capsule
publisher = Chicago Reader
url = http://onfilm.chicagoreader.com/movies/capsules/1357_BRANDED_TO_KILL
accessdate = 2007-04-03
] cite web
last = Schilling
first = Mark
title = Lord, bless this cinematic mess
publisher = The Japan Times
year = 2001
month = June
url = http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ff20010620a2.html
accessdate = 2007-10-06
] It has been declared a masterpiece by the likes of film critic Chuck Stephens,cite web
last = Stephens
first = Chuck
title = The Smell of Hard-boiled Rice: PFA screens a few (too few) of Seijun Suzuki's hard-to-catch B-movie powder kegs
publisher = Cinefiles
url = http://www.mip.berkeley.edu/cgi-bin/cine_doc_detail.pl/cine_img/?15717?15717?1
accessdate = 2007-10-04
] writer and musician Chris D., composer John Zorncite web
last = Zorn
first = John
authorlink = John Zorn
title = Branded to Kill
publisher = The Criterion Collection
year = 1999
url = http://www.criterion.com/asp/release.asp?id=38&eid=55&section=essay
accessdate = 2007-04-03
] and film director Quentin Tarantino.cite web
last = Machiyama
first = Tomohiro
title = Tarantino Interview
publisher = Japattack
year = 2004
month = October
pages = p. 2
url = http://japattack.com/main/node/79
accessdate = 2007-04-13
] Writer and critic Tony Rayns noted, "Suzuki mocks everything from the clichés of yakuza fiction to the conventions of Japanese censorship in this extraordinary thriller, which rivals Orson Welles' "Lady from Shanghai" in its harsh eroticism, not to mention its visual fireworks." Modified comparisons to the films of a "gonzo Sam Fuller", or Jean-Luc Godard, assuming one "factor [s] out Godard's politics and self-consciousness", are not uncommon.cite web
last = Blaise
first = Judd
title = Branded to Kill
publisher = The New York Times
url = http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/139678/Branded-to-Kill/overview
accessdate = 2007-04-11
] In a 1992 "Rolling Stone" magazine article, film director Jim Jarmusch affectionately recommended it as, "Probably the strangest and most perverse 'hit man' story in cinema."cite web
last = Hertzberg
first = Ludvig
title = Innocent Influences, Guilty Pleasures
publisher = The Jim Jarmusch Resource Page
url = http://jimjarmusch.tripod.com/recommended.html
accessdate = 2007-04-13
] Jasper Sharp of the Midnight Eye wrote, " [It] is a bloody marvellous looking film and arguably the pinnacle of the director's strikingly eclectic style."

However, the workings of the plot remain elusive to most. Sharp digressed, " [T] o be honest it isn't the most accessible of films and for those unfamiliar with Suzuki's unorthodox and seemingly disjointed style it will probably take a couple of viewings before the bare bones of the plot begin to emerge." As Zorn has put it, "plot and narrative devices take a back seat to mood, music, and the sensuality of visual images." Japanese film historian Donald Richie encapsulated the film thusly, "An inventive and ultimately anarchic take on gangster thrillers. [The] script flounders midway and Suzuki tries on the bizarre for its own sake."Richie, Donald (2005). Ibid, p. 267.] David Chute conceded that in labeling the film incomprehensible, " [i] f you consider the movie soberly, it's hard to deny the bosses had a point". On a conciliatory note, Rayns commented, "Maybe the break with Nikkatsu was inevitable; it's hard to see how Suzuki could have gone further in the genre than this."

After another unrelated 10 year hiatus, Suzuki and Nikkatsu reunited for the "Style to Kill" retrospective, held in April, 2001, at Theatre Shinjuku in Tokyo. It featured 28 films by Suzuki, including "Branded to Kill".cite web
last = Schilling
first = Mark
title = Journey to the center of the human volcano
publisher = The Japan Times
year = 2001
month = April
url = http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ff20010418a3.html
accessdate = 2007-10-05
] cite web
title = Line-up
publisher = Seijun Suzuki Retrospective: Style to Kill
year = 2001
url = http://www.so-net.ne.jp/seijun/styletokill/lineup/index.html
language = Japanese
archiveurl = http://web.archive.org/web/20010311152720/http://www.so-net.ne.jp/seijun/styletokill/lineup/index.html
archivedate = 2001-03-11
accessdate = 2007-10-05
] Suzuki appeared at the gala opening with star Annu Mari.cite web
last = Casey
first = Chris
title = Mari Annu
publisher = Nikkatsu Action Lounge
year = 2001
url = http://shishido0.tripod.com/mari.html
accessdate = 2007-10-05
] Joe Shishido appeared for a talk session at an all-night, four-film screening. An accompanying "Branded to Kill" visual directory was published.cite book
title = Style to kill : 殺しの烙印visual directory
publisher = プチグラパブリッシング
year = 2001
language = Japanese
id = ISBN 4-939102-21-1
] The following year, the Tanomi Company produced a limited edition "Joe the Ace""Joe the Ace" (エースのジョー "Eisu no Jō") is a popular nickname under which Shishido is known in Japan.
Schilling, Mark (September 2003). Ibid, pp. 128–130.] action figure based on Shishido's character in the film, complete with a miniature rice cooker.cite web
title = 『エースのジョー』1/6アクションフィギュア
publisher = Tanomi
url = http://www.tanomi.com/shop/admin/html/items00467.html
language = Japanese
accessdate = 2007-10-06
] cite web
author = Dave
title = Specialty Items
work = Suzuki Swag
publisher = 45. Caliber Samurai
url = http://sweetbottom.tripod.com/suzuki_specialty.htm
accessdate = 2007-10-06
] In 2006, Nikkatsu celebrated the 50th anniversary of Suzuki's directorial debut by hosting the "Seijun Suzuki 48 Film Challenge" retrospective at the 19th Tokyo International Film Festival. It showcased all of his films. He and Mari were again in attendance.cite web
title = Seijyun Suzuki Retrospective
publisher = Tokyo International Film Festival
url = http://www.tiff-jp.net/en/lineup/supporting_project/seijyun_retrospective.html
accessdate = 2007-09-30
archiveurl = http://web.archive.org/web/20070701015756/http://www.tiff-jp.net/en/lineup/supporting_project/seijyun_retrospective.html
archivedate = 2007-07-01
] cite web
title = 鈴木清順 48本勝負
publisher = Cinemavera Shinbuya
url = http://www.cinemavera.com/bc.html?mode=view&no=13
year = 2006
language = Japanese
accessdate = 2007-10-05
]

Legacy

As one of Seijun Suzuki's most influential films, "Branded to Kill" has been acknowledged as a source of inspiration by such internationally renowned directors as Hong Kong's John Woo, South Korea's Chan-wook Park and America's Jim Jarmusch and Quentin Tarantino.cite web
last = Kermode
first = Mark
authorlink = Mark Kermode
title = Well, I told you she was different ...
publisher = Guardian Unlimited
year = 2006
month = July
url = http://observer.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,1810604,00.html
accessdate = 2007-04-13
] Jarmusch listed it as his favourite hitman film, alongside "Le Samouraï" (also 1967),cite web
last = Andrew
first = Geoff
title = Jim Jarmusch interviewed by Geoff Andrew (III)
publisher = Guardian Unlimited
year = 1999
month = November
url = http://film.guardian.co.uk/Guardian_NFT/interview/0,,110605,00.html
accessdate = 2007-04-03
] and thanked Suzuki in the screen credits of his own hitman film "" (1999). Most notably, Jarmusch mirrored a scene in which the protagonist kills a target by shooting up from a basement through a sink drain. He went so far as to screen the film for Suzuki when the two met in Tokyo.cite web
last = Wilonsky
first = Robert
title = The Way of Jim Jarmusch
publisher = Miami New Times
year = 2000
month = March
url = http://www.miaminewtimes.com/2000-03-23/film/the-way-of-jim-jarmusch/
accessdate = 2007-04-03
] cite web
title = Indie reservation
publisher = Guardian Unlimited
year = 2001
month = March
url = http://film.guardian.co.uk/Feature_Story/interview/0,,153910,00.html
accessdate = 2007-04-13
] Critics have noted "Branded to Kill's" influence on the films of Wong Kar-wai, such as his hitman film "Fallen Angels" (1995),cite web
last = Kurei
first = Hibiki
title = Deep Seijun
publisher = Real Tokyo
url = http://www.realtokyo.co.jp/english/4weeks/0024-kurei.htm
archiveurl = http://web.archive.org/web/20041027132207/http://www.realtokyo.co.jp/english/4weeks/0024-kurei.htm
archivedate=2004-10-27
accessdate = 2007-04-03
] as well as Johnnie To's "Fulltime Killer" (2001).cite web
last = Grady
first = Pam
title = Fulltime Killer DVD Review
publisher = Reel.com
url = http://www.reel.com/movie.asp?MID=135383&PID=10100888&Tab=reviews&CID=18
accessdate = 2007-04-03
] However, "Branded to Kill" was most influential in its native Japan. The film's premise, in which hitmen try to kill each other in competition for the Number One rank, is spoofed in films such as Takeshi Kitano's "Getting Any?" (1995) and Sabu's "Postman Blues" (1997), which features a character named Hitman Joe.cite web
last = Klinger
first = Gabe
title = Tiger Tanaka - Interview with Japanese cult director Hiroyuki "Sabu" Tanaka
publisher = Senses of Cinema
year = 2000
month = October
url = http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/00/10/sabu.html
accessdate = 2007-08-12
] "Branded to Kill" played a role in the development of the long-running Lupin III franchise.cite web
author = Keith
title = Lupin the 3rd: Castle of Cagliostro
publisher = Teleport City
year = 2006
month = September
url = http://www.teleport-city.com/movies/dvdjournal/2006/09/lupin-3rd-castle-of-cagliostro.html
accessdate = 2007-08-23
] It also had a profound impact, through Suzuki's firing and the resulting student uprising, in the beginnings of the movement film, usually underground or anti-establishment films which focused on issues of import to audiences, as opposed to production line genre pictures.cite web
title = Underground Cinema and the Art Theatre Guild
last = Hirasawa
first = Go
publisher = Midnight Eye
year = 2005
month = August
url = http://www.midnighteye.com/features/underground_atg.shtml
accessdate = 2007-08-23
] Thirty-four years after "Branded to Kill", Suzuki directed "Pistol Opera" (2001), a loose sequel co-produced by Shochiku and filmed at Nikkatsu.cite web
title = A new Seijun Suzuki film in the works! PISTOL OPERA OF DEATH!!!
last = Knowles
first = Harry
authorlink = Harry Knowles
publisher = Ain't It Cool News
year = 2001
month = March
url = http://www.aintitcool.com/?q=node/8505
accessdate = 2007-10-05
] The character Goro Hanada returns as a mentor figure to the new Number Three, played by Makiko Esumi. However, Joe Shishido was replaced by Mikijiro Hira in the role of Hanada. Suzuki has said that the original intention was for Shishido to play the character again but that the film's producer, Satoru Ogura, wanted Hira for the role.cite web
title = Review: Pistol Opera
last = Mes
first = Tom
publisher = Midnight Eye
year = 2001
month = October
url = http://www.midnighteye.com/reviews/pistoper.shtml
accessdate = 2007-03-18
] Reviews were of a favourable nature on par with its predecessor. Jonathan Rosenbaum supposed, "Can I call a film a masterpiece without being sure that I understand it? I think so ..."cite web
title = Review: Pistol Opera
last = Rosenbaum
first = Jonathan
publisher = Chicago Reader
year = 2003
month = August
url = http://www.chicagoreader.com/movies/archives/2003/0803/030822.html
accessdate = 2007-04-16
] Although some, such as Elvis Mitchell for The Village Voice, felt its zeal fell slightly short of the original.cite web
title = Assassination Tangos
last = Mitchell
first = Elvis
authorlink=Elvis Mitchell
publisher = The Village Voice
year = 2003
month = June
url = http://www.villagevoice.com/film/0324,atkinson,44707,20.html
accessdate = 2007-04-16
]

Home video

"Branded to Kill" was initially made available in Japan by Nikkatsu in VHS format, first on February 10, 1987,cite web
title = 殺しの烙印 [1987 VHS]
publisher = amazon.co.jp
url = http://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B00005FCAW
language = Japanese
accessdate = 2007-06-05
] then a second version on June 10, 1994.cite web
title = 殺しの烙印 [1994 VHS]
publisher = amazon.co.jp
url = http://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B00005FC7X
language = Japanese
accessdate = 2007-06-05
] A Nikkatsu DVD was released on October 26, 2001 in a series linked to the "Style to Kill" retrospective.cite web
title = 殺しの烙印 [DVD]
publisher = amazon.co.jp
url = http://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B00005Q7NK
language = Japanese
accessdate = 2007-06-05
] cite web
title = Style to Kill
publisher = Nikkatsu
url = http://www.nikkatsu.com/dig/DVDLINEUPS/dvd_line_style.html
language = Japanese
accessdate = 2007-10-05
] In conjunction with the "Seijun Suzuki 48 Film Challenge", the film was included in the first of two six-film box sets which was released October 26, 2006.cite web
title = 鈴木清順監督自選DVD-BOX 壱
publisher = amazon.co.jp
url = http://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B000GYI50M
language = Japanese
accessdate = 2007-06-05
]

The first North American copies surfaced in the early 1990s at Kim's Video in New York in a video series titled "Dark of the Sun" devoted to obscure Asian cinema, assembled by John Zorn,cite web
last = Chute
first = David
title = Branded to Thrill
publisher = Cinefiles
url = http://www.mip.berkeley.edu/cgi-bin/cine_doc_detail.pl/cine_img/?15726?15726?0
pages = p. 3
accessdate = 2007-04-06
quote = Two of Suzuki's films, "Branded to Kill" and "Wild Youth" (aka "Youth of the Beast") are available in a video series devoted to Japanese cinematic exotica, 'Dark of the Sun,' assembled by musician John Zorn for Kim's Video in New York
] albeit without English subtitles.cite web
last = Price
first = Ed
title = "Guts of a Virgin"
publisher = WNUR-FM Jazz Web
year = 1993
month = August
url = http://www.wnur.org/Jazz/performance/zornfest/zorn-and-film.html#ShojoNoHarawata
work = John Zorn and film
accessdate = 2007-04-06
] The Criterion Collection released the film on laserdisc in 1998,cite web
last = Pratt
first = Doug
title = Branded to Kill
publisher = DVDLaser.com
year = 1998
month = June
url = http://www.dvdlaser.com/search/detail.cfm?ID=23573
accessdate = 2007-04-05
] followed by a DVD on February 23, 1999, both containing a 15-minute interview with Suzuki, poster gallery of Joe Shishido films and liner notes by Zorn.cite web
last = Erickson
first = Glenn
authorlink = Glenn Erickson
title = Branded to Kill
publisher = DVD Talk
year = 2002
month = July
url = http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/read.php?ID=4179&___rd=1
accessdate = 2007-04-05
] Home Vision Cinema release a VHS version on June 16, 2000.cite web
title = Branded To Kill
publisher = amazon.com
url = http://www.amazon.com/Branded-Kill-Jo-Shishido/dp/0780020502
accessdate = 2007-06-05
] Both companies conjunctively released "Tokyo Drifter" in all three formats in addition to a VHS collection packaging the two films together.cite web
title = The Seijun Suzuki Prepack
publisher = Internet Archive
year = 2002
month = April
url = http://web.archive.org/web/20020401060150/http://homevision.com/film.php?id=SUZ010
accessdate = 2007-04-05
]

In the United Kingdom, Second Sight Films released a DVD on February 25, 2002 and a VHS on March 11, 2002.cite web
last = Foster
first = Dave
title = Branded to Kill
publisher = DVD Times
year = 2002
month = February
url = http://www.dvdtimes.co.uk/content.php?contentid=3604
accessdate = 2007-04-05
] cite web
title = Branded To Kill
publisher = amazon.co.uk
url = http://www.amazon.co.uk/Branded-Kill-Jo-Shishido/dp/B00005UQVK
accessdate = 2007-06-05
] Yume Pictures released a new DVD on February 26, 2007 as a part of their Suzuki collection, featuring a 36-minute interview with the director, trailer gallery and liner notes by Tony Rayns.cite web
last = Gilvear
first = Kevin
title = Branded to Kill
publisher = DVD Times
year = 2007
month = April
url = http://www.dvdtimes.co.uk/content.php?contentid=64730
accessdate = 2007-05-16
]

oundtrack

Infobox Album
Name = Branded to Kill
Type = Soundtrack
Longtype =
Artist = Naozumi Yamamoto


Released = February 23, 2007
Recorded =
Genre = Soundtrack, Jazz
Length =
Label = Think
Producer =
Reviews =
Last album =
This album =
Next album =
Forty years after the film's original release, on February 23, 2007, the Japanese record label Think reissued the soundtrack on Compact Disc through its Cine Jazz series, which focused on 1960s Nikkatsu action films. The music was culled from Naozumi Yamamoto's score. Atsushi Yamatoya, of the Group of Eight, sang the "Killing Blues" themes. Listings 27 through 29 are bonus karaoke tracks.cite web
title = 「和製ジャズ・ビートニク映画音楽傑作撰(日活編)」発売
publisher = Jazz Tokyo
year = 2007
month = March
url = http://www.jazztokyo.com/hotline/localf.html
language = Japanese
accessdate = 2007-04-06
] cite web
title = 「殺しの烙印」オリジナル・サウンドトラック
publisher = CD Journal
url = http://www.cdjournal.com/main/cd/disc.php?dno=4106121275
language = Japanese
accessdate = 2007-04-06
]

Track listing

References

External links

* [http://www.mip.berkeley.edu/cgi-bin/cine_doc_detail.pl/cine_img/?15668?15668?1 Japan Foundation notes] at Cinefiles
* [http://www.criterion.com/asp/release.asp?id=38&eid=55&section=essay Criterion Collection essay] by John Zorn
*
*
*
* " [http://www.jmdb.ne.jp/1967/cq001780.htm Branded to Kill] " ja icon at the Japanese Movie Database


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Branded to kill — La Marque du tueur La Marque du tueur (殺しの烙印, Koroshi no Rakuin) est un film japonais réalisé par Seijun Suzuki, sorti en 1967. Ce film, trop audacieux, valut à Suzuki son licenciement des studios Nikkatsu. Sommaire 1 Synopsis 2 Fiche technique 3 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Branded (Dad's Army episode) — Infobox Dad s Army episode number episode name=023 Branded script=Jimmy Perry and David Croft director=Harold Snoad producer=David Croft recorded=Friday 14/11/69 original transmission=Thursday 20/11/69 7.30pm series=Three length=30 minutes… …   Wikipedia

  • Seijun Suzuki — Infobox actor name = Seijun Suzuki caption = birthname = Seitaro Suzuki birthdate = birth date and age|1923|5|24 birthplace = Nihonbashi, Tokyo, Japan deathdate = deathplace = restingplace = restingplacecoordinates = othername = occupation = Film …   Wikipedia

  • Joe Shishido — Infobox actor name = Joe Shishido image caption = Shishido at the 2005 Udine Far East Film Festival birthdate = birth date and age|1933|12|6|mf=y location = Kita, Osaka, Japan birthname = Jō Shishido height = 1.74 m (5 8½ )nihongo|Joe Shishido|宍戸 …   Wikipedia

  • Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands — Theatrical poster for Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands (1967) Directed by Atsushi Yamatoya[1] …   Wikipedia

  • Kiyoshi Suzuki — Seijun Suzuki Pour les articles homonymes, voir Suzuki (homonymie). Seijun Suzuki Portrait de Seijun Suzuki …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Seijun Suzuki — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Suzuki (homonymie). Seijun Suzuki Portra …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Seitaro Suzuki — Seijun Suzuki Pour les articles homonymes, voir Suzuki (homonymie). Seijun Suzuki Portrait de Seijun Suzuki …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Seitarou Suzuki — Seijun Suzuki Pour les articles homonymes, voir Suzuki (homonymie). Seijun Suzuki Portrait de Seijun Suzuki …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Suzuki Seijun — Seijun Suzuki Pour les articles homonymes, voir Suzuki (homonymie). Seijun Suzuki Portrait de Seijun Suzuki …   Wikipédia en Français


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.