Seijun Suzuki

Branded to Kill

Branded to Kill

When Japanese New Wave bad boy Seijun Suzuki delivered this brutal, hilarious, and visually inspired masterpiece to the executives at his studio, he was promptly fired. Branded to Kill tells the ecstatically bent story of a yakuza assassin with a fetish for sniffing steamed rice (the chipmunk-cheeked superstar Joe Shishido) who botches a job and ends up a target himself. This is Suzuki at his most extreme—the flabbergasting pinnacle of his sixties pop-art aesthetic.

Film Info

  • Seijun Suzuki
  • Japan
  • 1967
  • 91 minutes
  • Black & White
  • 2.35:1
  • Japanese
  • Spine #38

Special Features

  • New high-definition digital restoration (with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
  • Video piece featuring new interviews with director Seijun Suzuki and assistant director Masami Kuzuu
  • Interview with Suzuki from 1997
  • New interview with actor Joe Shishido
  • Trailer
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by critic and historian Tony Rayns

New cover by Eric Skillman

Purchase Options

Special Features

  • New high-definition digital restoration (with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
  • Video piece featuring new interviews with director Seijun Suzuki and assistant director Masami Kuzuu
  • Interview with Suzuki from 1997
  • New interview with actor Joe Shishido
  • Trailer
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by critic and historian Tony Rayns

New cover by Eric Skillman

Branded to Kill
Cast
Joe Shishido
Goro Hanada
Koji Nanbara
Number One
Isao Tamagawa
Michihiko Nakajo
Annu Mari
Misako Nakajo
Mariko Ogawa
Mami Hanada
Hiroshi Minami
Gihei Kasuga
Credits
Director
Seijun Suzuki
Producer
Kaneo Iwai
Assistant director
Masami Kuzuu
Screenplay
Hachiro Guryu
Cinematography
Kazue Nagatsuka
Editing
Matsuo Tanji
Production design
Sukezo Kawahara
Music
Naozumi Yamamoto

From The Current

Branded to Kill: Reductio Ad Absurdum
Branded to Kill: Reductio Ad Absurdum

At the author’s request, Japanese names are given here in their traditional form: surname first. Branded to Kill has passed into legend as the movie that got Suzuki Seijun fired from Nikkatsu. It also has a rep as a delirious, absurdist deconstruct…

By Tony Rayns

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Branded to Kill
A Salute to Seijun Suzuki
A Salute to Seijun Suzuki

Cinema lost one of its most venerated maestros of excess last week with the passing of director Seijun Suzuki, whose signature films from the 1960s exploded the conventions of the Japanese studio system. While honing his craft in dozens of films cran…

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Seijun Suzuki

Director

According to critic Manohla Dargis, “To experience a film by Japanese B-movie visionary Seijun Suzuki is to experience Japanese cinema in all its frenzied, voluptuous excess.” Suzuki played chaos like jazz in his movies, from the anything-goes yakuza thrillers Tokyo Drifter and Branded to Kill to the daring postwar dramas of human frailty Gate of Flesh and Story of a Prostitute to the twisted coming-of-age story Fighting Elegy; he never concerned himself with moderation, cramming boundless invention into his beautifully composed frames, both color and black-and-white. Suzuki first pursued film after returning home to Tokyo from service in the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II and failing university entrance exams. Following an unsatisfying stint as an assistant director at Shochiku, Suzuki was lured in 1954 to the recently reopened Nikkatsu studio, which was hiring fresh talent to appeal to a new kind of youth audience. He flourished there for years, with such films as Take Aim at the Police Van and especially Youth of the Beast, a commercial breakthrough for him. Yet his bosses became more and more opposed to his increasingly surreal visual stylings and lack of attention to narrative coherence, and after he made Branded to Kill, which a superior deemed “incomprehensible,” they unceremoniously (and illegally) revoked his contract. Of course, as any true Suzuki fan (and they are legion) knows, the incomprehensibility is part of the fun, and today his sixties works are considered some of the most essential of the Japanese New Wave.