Tokyo Drifter - DVD review (4 stars)

Tokyo Drifter

(15) 82min (Yume Pictures DVD retail)


One of three excellent reissues of the films of the great Japanese filmmaker Seijun Suzuki (the other two on release are his erotic and darkly humorous 1967 gangster film Branded to Kill and his most directly autobiographical film Fighting Elegy). Often cited as Japan’s answer to Jean-Luc Godard (circa Breathless), Suzuki is in fact unique and immensely influential in Japanese cinema. This 1966 film is arguably his finest, a kind of pop art gangster flick that follows the violent, occasionally existential adventures of ice cool hit man Tetsu (Tetsuya Watari) as he tries to go straight despite his Yakusa clan’s best efforts. With its great soundtrack, camp garish visuals and absurdist dialogue Tokyo Drifter has been a huge influence on everyone from Jim Jarmusch to Quentin Tarantino. A bona fide noir potboiler gem. Good extras include a UK exclusive Suzuki interview, an essay by Asian cinema expert Tony Rayns and a trailer reel of Suzuki’s other films. Your appetite should be well and truly whetted.

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