Directors in Focus: Seijun Suzuki
Branded to Kill
dir. Seijun Suzuki, Japan, 1967, DCP, 91 min., b/w, Japanese w/ English subtitles
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.