December 13, 2011
- Runtime: 91 minutes
- NTSC (Canada and USA)
- Originally in Japanese
In this cinematic masterpiece Seijan Suzuki transcends the B-movie genre. Fired after making it, he was unable to work for ten years. Branded to Kill follows the strange day-to-day existence of an expert hit-man who carries out his orders with steely determination and impassive cool. All hell breaks loose, however, when a butterfly alighting on his rifle scope results in a botched job, and a death sentence for the screw-up. Joe Shishido, with his collagen-enhanced cheekbones, makes a terrific antihero whose unusual quirks (Suzuki reasoned that a man obsessed with the scent of warm rice would signal to audiences that this guy was quintessentially Japanese) instantly endear him to newly-made fans.
A not-quite tongue-in-cheek send-up of Japanese censorship and pat, by-the-numbers "Yakuza" gangster films, this gonzo feature follows a lower-level underworld assassin as he's toyed with and tormented by a higher-up after botching a job. Suzuki's strategically placed animated sequences obscured "offending" material, thwarting censors and delighting fans of the director's black humor.