Tokyo Drifter (1966) - Rotten Tomatoes

Tokyo Drifter (1966)

Tokyo Drifter




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Tokyo Drifter stands with Branded to Kill as one of the best-known and most acclaimed films of Seijun Suzuki, one of Japan's most talented maverick directors. A colorful riot of an action drama, Tokyo Drifter, like many of Suzuki's films, transforms a standard gangster film plot into a vehicle for his own loopy brand of filmmaking, featuring gorgeous cinematography, unconventional storytelling techniques, and a dark sense of humor. This particular example centers on Tetsu, a yakuza member who, when his gang is disbanded, remains loyal to his boss and attempts to go straight. This is no easy task, however, as the yakuza are determined to get him back into the life -- or kill him if he refuses. The pressure soon forces Tetsu to go on the road, becoming the "Tokyo drifter" of the title, but even this is not enough to prevent his past from violently catching up with him. The film's choreographed action and vibrant color palette make the frequent action sequences, including one of the most raucous barroom brawls ever put on film, seem almost like musical numbers, resulting in a spectacularly entertaining and truly original take on the gangster drama. ~ Judd Blaise, Rovimore
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Art House & International
Directed By:
Written By: Kôhan Kawauchi, Yasunori Kawauchi
In Theaters:
On DVD: Feb 23, 1999
Criterion Collection


Tetsuya Watari
as Hondo Tetsuya
Hideaki Nitani
as Aizawa Kenji
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Tokyo Drifter

Critic Reviews for Tokyo Drifter

All Critics (10) | Top Critics (2)

Inspired lunacy.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

A 1966 yakuza gangster thriller with a pop-art look by the formidable B-movie director Seijun Suzuki.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

A style that works only with a sure hand.

Full Review… | April 5, 2012

...plays like a mix of spaghetti western and samurai melodrama relocated to the pop-art splendor of 1960s Japan...

Full Review… | February 19, 2012
Turner Classic Movies Online

It's the camera trickery and the playful art direction that send up the entire image of the badass yakuza to begin with.

Full Review… | January 13, 2012

Distills the aesthetic of the 1960s into one feature-length blast.

Full Review… | June 7, 2009
Antagony & Ecstasy

Audience Reviews for Tokyo Drifter

Makes no damn sense at all. Pretty colors though. This was like a Daniel Clowes yakuza comic with more than a few pages missing.

Bob Stinson

Super Reviewer


The first Yakuza film I've ever seen, and for me, a real eye-opener. I love movies about trying to leave a life of crime behind, and I really enjoyed this one and got behind the hero, Tetsu. If you're a Tarantino fan, watching this (or other Suzuki films) will put his work (particularly the Kill Bill films) into proper context. Exotic music, insanely bright colours, and as far as I'm aware, the earliest instance in my viewing history of the supered-on-the-screen text that we're seeing more and more in North American films, too. A window into 60s Japanese pop culture, and like nothing I've ever seen before.

Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer

A pop 60's aesthetic, a cool like Steve McQueen, a powder blue seersucker suit and an indescribable plot miraculously combine in this B-movie chic from Japan about a mob guy (the Yakusa, baby!) trying to go straight. As another made guy famously said: "... every time I try to get out they drag me back in!"

Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

Tokyo Drifter Quotes

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