Branded to Kill (1967) Chipmunk, Butterflies, Steamy Japanese Sex & Boiled Rice!

Branded to Kill (1967) hitman gangster yakuza hot babes

Oh come on now, you really shouldn’t have made such incredible films Mr Seijun Suzuki. My constant buzzing and face of awe makes it hard to concentrate on normal life stuff. My mind wanders off, all day thinking about the pure wonder and excitement that greeted me on the screen. Tokyo Drifter had always been one of my favorite films, it’s just so damn bloody cool but then I got recommended Branded To Kill, well it couldn’t be as good as Tokyo Drifter, that would be impossible, wouldn’t it, surely?

Branded to Kill (1967) hitman gun Gorô Hanada (Jô Shishido)

The Mauser C96 is a semi-automatic pistol

Sheeeet I don’t know, I’m torn, oh man it so good, I’m going to call it a no score draw. I can’t separate them and what’s more, they are both very cleverly, different. Well yeah they are both about the Yakuza, with similar themes but the styles mark strong different approaches to the creative spirit of the design. Where Drifter hits that beautiful, bright technicolour artistic flare throughout, Branded unleashes its superpowers in sweet noir black and white images, like snaps shots fired from a smoking gun.  The photography and cinematography techniques are so artful and creative that it’s just plain ridiculous. Every single frame could be blown up full sized to plaster your house from floor to ceiling with the coolest posters you could ever hope to purchase. And you know what, again this isn’t just style over substance, as the story unfolds, its pure flair and perfection surround with surreal visuals.

Branded to Kill (1967) siren Annu Mari (Misako Nakajô) naked film reelBranded to Kill (1967) hitmen gangsters yakuza boss

Again this is another reason to shout from the rooftops, this is the whole reason I love film so much, seeing masterful creations like these is purely what it’s all about. That injection of adrenaline as you realise straight from the opening frames to the last spin of the reel, that everything you love about watching movies has just playout before your very eyes.

Branded to Kill (1967) crosshairs rifle sight eye

To say too much about the story would just spoil it, I’ll do a quick run down of the basics and a few observations but do go and treat yourself if you haven’t seen it. That is of course if you like the sound of gangster movies under the guise of an experimental, avant garde, modern art project.

Branded to Kill (1967) smelling boiled rice showing girl

Boiled rice viagra!

Chipmunked* faced hitman Gorô Hanada (Jô Shishido) channels all his cheek power in a Godfather Brando fashion as he is about to have the biggest test of his hitman life. When ever he feels a little down or unloved he has to power up with his quirky kink, to bury his face into freshly boiled rice, to inhale the white stuffs smell.

Branded to Kill (1967) Gorô Hanada (Jô Shishido) Annu Mari (Misako Nakajô) butterfliesBranded to Kill (1967) siren Annu Mari (Misako Nakajô) car driving rain

Goro, an experienced marksman on every account is the Yakuza’s third ranked hitman but with an unfortunate turn of events his life is about to spiral in bizarre ways. Not helped by the introduction of an incredibly beautiful but strange and batty fruit cake siren Annu Mari (Misako Nakajô). A looney lady with a obsession for butterflies and dead animals. Can Goro keep it all together and hold on to his number 3 spot on the hitman podium and can he show off his love making skills in obscure places?

Branded to Kill (1967) eyes looking out birds japanese gangster

  • * I read that Jô Shishido actually got his face reconstructed to achieve that bizarre and strange look! I guess if Kim Kardashian can get her ass done then what’s stopping you going full Alvin!
  • Look out for the wonderful scene using the classic British car the 1952 Morris Minor plus there’s an absolutely gorgeous 1959 Chrysler Saratoga.
Branded to Kill (1967) 1952 Morris Minor gangster hitmen dirt dust

1952 Morris Minor

  • The sex scenes are bonkers, I don’t believe I’ve seen anything quite like it with a 60’s Japanese film. And Goro’s wife Mami (Mariko Ogawa) appears naked most of the time and it’s no bad thing.
  • In a superb scene I smiled as I realised director Jim Jarmusch had homaged a sequence involving a sink and it’s plumbing in his 1999 film, one of my favorites of his I must add, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai.

Branded to Kill (1967) hitman gangster yakuza number one

Come the monthly watch round up and me putting my wolfman rating, you just know this is going to hit full marks, to be honest it smashed it right out the park straight into the stratosphere.  I seriously can’t wait to get some more Seijun Suzuki movies under my belt.

Thanks for popping on by the wolf den. Till the next time, sayonara.

18 thoughts on “Branded to Kill (1967) Chipmunk, Butterflies, Steamy Japanese Sex & Boiled Rice!

  1. Sounds like I need to see this as soon as possible. Sounds great. The cinematography looks stunning. Great review and I can tell how much you dig this one. Japanese cinema is awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s just so beautiful to look at, a real treat Maddy, I’m sure you will love it. Add Tokyo Drifter to it for a tip top double bill. Yes Japanese cinema is so creative, I love it too. I still need to see that Stray Dog one you recommended a while back. Must move that up the watch list.


  2. Gah, I love both Tokyo Drifter and Branded to Kill. Did you know that the studio reduced his film budgets hence he had to make do with less and less… Tokyo Drifter had almost no outdoor scenes and most were on that sound stage. And Branded to Kill is later but in black and white!

    Have you seen his earlier yakuza flick Youth of the Beast (1963)? It’s also really good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have Youth Of The Beast lined up for my next Seijun Suzuki fix. Can’t wait. Thanks for the recommended.
      Sounds like the studio trying to contain him and make him conform just made him go more and more experimental. So I guess we have them to thank for all these incredible films of his. Isn’t it just fantastic that both these two films have very similar themes but tackle them both so creatively different. So exciting and visually beautiful. Drifters set piece designs are masterful. Thanks for the comment Joachim, I can’t wait to watch Youth Of The Beast. Cheers


  3. Oooo, this one sounds really good, and your enthusiasm for it seals the deal. The framing and the black-and-white photography in those images above are cool. So yes, I will be tracking this one down, definitely. And as mentioned above (and I was going to mention this anyway even before I saw the comment), you should also check out ‘Stray Dog’. Of the few Japanese films I’ve seen, it’s my favorite.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It got a straight out 10/10 for me on the monthly round up score tally. It’s bonkers. Like you say the images are so cool. The whole film is like some art project but somehow manages to keep its feet on the ground. You are sure to love it. Give me nudge if you can get it….. Thats it hook line and sinker, you and Maddy have sealed the deal on Stray Dog. Time to get on the case.


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