Branded to Kill

This fractured film noir is the final provocation that got Suzuki fired from Nikkatsu Studios, simultaneously making him a counterculture hero and putting him out of work for a decade. An anarchic send-up of B movie clichés, it stars Jo Shishido as an assassin who gets turned on by the smell of cooking rice, and whose failed attempt to kill a victim (a butterfly lands on his gun) turns him into a target himself. Perhaps Suzuki’s most famous film, it has been cited as an influence by filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino, Jim Jarmusch, Park Chan-wook, and John Woo, as well as the composer John Zorn, who called it “a cinematic masterpiece that transcends its genre.” Intended for mature audiences. (Japanese with English subtitles)

Read Peter Bradshaw’s review of Branded to Kill for The Guardian (7/24/2014)

Genres: Crime, Noir, Action

Other Films by Seijun Suzuki

Carmen from Kawachi

Carmen from Kawachi

A 1960s riff on the opera Carmen (including a rock version of its famous aria “Habanero”), this picaresque tale sends its heroine from the countryside to Osaka and Tokyo in search of success as a singer. Her journey is fraught with exploitation and abuse at the hands of nefarious men—until Carmen seeks revenge. Mixing comedy,

Gate of Flesh

Gate of Flesh

Part social realist drama, part sadomasochistic trash opera, Gate of Flesh paints a dog-eat-dog portrait of postwar Tokyo. The film takes the point of view of a gang of tough prostitutes working out of a bombed-out building. When a lusty ex-soldier lurches into their midst, the group’s most sensitive member is tempted to break one

The Call of Blood

The Call of Blood

Though Suzuki created it in the midst of his stylistic breakthrough, The Call of Blood has never received the same amount of attention as other films he made around the same time. Nikkatsu icons Hideki Takahashi and Akira Kobayashi star as brothers—one a gangster, the other an ad man—who unite to avenge their yakuza father’s

Tattooed Life

Tattooed Life

Set in the 1930s, Tattooed Life is the story of two brothers: Kenji, an art student, and Tetsu, who is working as a yakuza to help pay for Kenji’s tuition. When a hit job goes horribly wrong, the brothers flee. They end up finding work in a mine—and falling in love with the owner’s wife

Yumeji

Yumeji

Made ten years after its predecessor, the final film in the Taisho Trilogy spins a fantastical tale from the life of a historical figure. Takehisa Yumeji (1884–1934) was an artist known as much for his paintings of beautiful women as for his bohemian lifestyle. As played by rock star Kenji Sawada, the Yumeji of Suzuki’s