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Branded to Kill - Starring Joe Shishido, Mariko Ogawa, Annu Mari and Koji Nanbara (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray - Dec 13, 2011)

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When Japanese New Wave bad boy Seijun Suzuki (Tokyo Drifter) 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 (Joe Shishido, the chipmunk-cheeked superstar from Gate of Flesh) with a fetish for sniffing boiled rice 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. A delirious fever dream of a film, Seijun Suzuki's Branded to Kill takes the familiar elements of "B"-movie crime drama and transforms them into something outrageously bizarre and unexpectedly poetic. The film's story centers on Hanada, a.k.a. "No. 3 Killer," the third-best hit man in Japanese organized crime. Near the top of his game, his fortunes change when he encounters Misako, a mysterious, death-obsessed woman who brings him a particularly difficult mission. In a famous moment indicative of the film's eccentric sensibility, a butterfly lands on his gun's sight at the exact moment he pulls the trigger, causing him to miss the shot. This failure means that the killer becomes the target, and must run for his life from his former employers, and the mysterious "No. 1 Killer." While the film does contain some spectacular action sequences, the story is played less as a suspense thriller than as a surrealistic, psychosexual nightmare, filled with grotesque imagery and strange touches, such as Misako's use of a dead bird's corpse as a rear-view mirror decoration, and his almost fetishistic fixation with the smell of boiling rice. Indeed, the narrative is at times so fragmented that it is often difficult to decipher exactly what is happening; however, the striking black-and-white cinematography and avant-garde editing provide the film with a dream logic all its own. Now considered by many critics a maverick classic comparable to the works of Samuel Fuller or Jean-Luc Godard, the film was less well received at the time of its original release, with its utter strangeness leading to director Suzuki's firing from the Nikkatsu studio and the near destruction of his career.A delirious fever dream of a film, Seijun Suzuki's Branded to Kill takes the familiar elements of "B"-movie crime drama and transforms them into something outrageously bizarre and unexpectedly poetic. The film's story centers on Hanada, a.k.a. "No. 3 Killer," the third-best hit man in Japanese organized crime. Near the top of his game, his fortunes change when he encounters Misako, a mysterious, death-obsessed woman who brings him a particularly difficult mission. In a famous moment indicative of the film's eccentric sensibility, a butterfly lands on his gun's sight at the exact moment he pulls the trigger, causing him to miss the shot. This failure means that the killer becomes the target, and must run for his life from his former employers, and the mysterious "No. 1 Killer." While the film does contain some spectacular action sequences, the story is played less as a suspense thriller than as a surrealistic, psychosexual nightmare, filled with grotesque imagery and strange touches, such as Misako's use of a dead bird's corpse as a rear-view mirror decoration, and his almost fetishistic fixation with the smell of boiling rice. Indeed, the narrative is at times so fragmented that it is often difficult to decipher exactly what is happening; however, the striking black-and-white cinematography and avant-garde editing provide the film with a dream logic all its own. Now considered by many critics a maverick classic comparable to the works of Samuel Fuller or Jean-Luc Godard, the film was less well received at the time of its original release, with its utter strangeness leading to director Suzuki's firing from the Nikkatsu studio and the near destruction of his career.

Condition:NEW. Brand New Factory Sealed

Cast & Crew - Branded to Kill
Jo Shishido
(Films) Hanada Goro/ Killer No.3
Mariko Ogawa
(Films) Hanada Mami
Koji Nanbara
(Films) Killer No. 1
Mari Annu
(Films) Nakajo Misako
Isao Tamagawa Yabuhara Michihiko
Technical Credits
Seijun Suzuki Director
Mizunoe Takiko Producer
Naozumi Yamamoto Score Composer

Product Details
Actors: Joe Shishido, Mariko Ogawa, Annu Mari, Koji Nanbara
Directors: Seijun Suzuki
Format: Black & White, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
Language: Japanese
Subtitles: English
Region: (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
Number of discs: 1
Rated: Unrated
Studio: Criterion Collection
DVD Release Date: December 13, 2011
Run Time: 91 minutes

Special Features
New high-definition digital restoration with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
Video interviews with director Seijun Suzuki and Masami Kuzuu

Interview with Suzuki from 1997

New interview with actor Joe Shishido

Original theatrical trailer

New and improved English subtitle translation

PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic and historian Tony Rayns

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