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BRANDED TO KILL

Director: SEIJUN SUZUKI

91 minutes, Japan, 1967, Black and White, D-Cinema


IFI CLASSIC

When Branded to Kill was released in 1967, the president of Nikkatsu, the production company who financed the film, branded it ‘incomprehensible’. It was withdrawn from distribution after just a few screenings and Seijun Suzuki was sacked from the company within months. After the Japan Directors Guild and student groups lodged protests about Suzuki’s treatment, a lengthy court battle ensued, with Suzuki claiming breach of contract, wrongful dismissal and personal damages.

The director won the case, and the film survived to be regarded as one of the most inspired genre movies ever made in Japan, an influential touchstone for American directors such as Scorsese, Jarmusch and Tarantino. Branded to Kill is mad, sexy and brilliant, a breathtaking yakuza thriller about a hitman marked for execution having to battle beautiful women and murderous gangsters in order to become ‘Number One Killer’ and possibly save his own life. (Notes by Michael Hayden.)

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★★★★★ The Irish Times

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