Tokyo Drifter (1966)
Aka: The Man from Tokyo, Tôkyô nagaremono
Directed By: Seijun Suzuki
Starring: Tetsuya Watari, Chieko Matsubara, Hideaki Nitani, Ryuji Kita
Plot: Tetsuya Watari plays Tetsu, a gangster looking to get out of the business. He’s loyal to gang leader Kurata (Ryuji Kita) who act as a father figure for him. But Otsuka, a rival gang leader wants tetsu to work for him, When Tetsu refuses his beaten up. Next Otsuka sends some men to kidnap Chiharu (Chieko Matsubara), a singer in his club that Tetsu might have a relationship with. Of course tetsu saves her but that doesn’t stop otsuka he then buys off one of Kurata’s last building. Otsuka Next goes to kurata place with some men to make him pay off the building or give up tetsu. Of course all doesn’t work out and it leads to gun fights. After all the mayhem Tetsu finally quits. But as soon as he does Kurata caves in and makes an alliance with Otsuka. This leads to a climactic gun fight between Tetsu and Otsuka men.
Review: The Films of Seijun Suzuki are colorful pop art mind trips. They normally take a simple by the numbers plot and add surreal images. Tokyo Drifter is one of his best films, next to Branded to kill (1967). Every frame is candy coded with details and odd colors. Hell some of the scene selections are named after the colors of a set.
Tokyo Drifter is a violent movie. Almost every 5 minutes there seems to be a fight, chase, or shootout. I mean gangsters are so posted to be violent but this film takes it to an outlandish level. The shootouts are filmed well and almost seem like they were filmed hand held. They do go on for a long time but are still enjoyable. The gun fights are also well planed and fun to watch. Quick spoiler: the flying gun trick at the end was too damn laughable.
The Acting on the other hand is not so good. Everyone just looks like a bunch of action figures with no real emotion. The Only emotion that does shows is mostly just faked by Kurata. This kind of acting does help some movies but not here. Without the emotion the movie feels like an over stylized pop crime movie. Well I guess that’s what this movie is. Also one more bitchy thing about the acting and emotion. The Love between Chiharu, the singer, and Tetsu seems rashly plotted and useless. As it is it feels like a bittersweet romance at best as Chiharu keeps trying to catch tetsu, and ask him for a date.
The Music of Tokyo Drifter is haunting and weird. It consists of Harmonica music and guitar. There this one song, the main title music that makes it so haunting and odd. It’s played like the Music from The Third Man (1948), playing when the Tetsu has won a battle or is becoming sad. It works very well and stays in your head way after the movie is over.
Overall: Even thou I sounded pissed at some parts of this movie, I still think this is one of the best gangster movies I’ve have yet to see.
7/10 got to love those brightly colored sets.