Tokyo Drifter Reviews
Don't remember why exatctly I put this on my lovefilm rental list but I'm pretty glad that I did. Tokyo Drifter is something get extrodinary and very unliked most films that I've seen. Also don't often catch a B Film at all.
Japnese Cinema of the 1960s. I believe was inspiration for Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill and Kill Bill 2. This is evident in the faboulous sets and brilliant imagery that Suzuki implements into this films. The story is very much the same, with the Tokyo Drifter (Tetsu) playing a similar role to Uma Thuram's character. Definatly check it out if you enjoy Tarantino'd cinema.
Tokyo Drifter take you into the world of Japanese Organised crime, with much of it feeling like you're watching a 1960's Bond film. The narrative is at times pretty bizzare and you really have to pay attention to the subtitles and what's going in in every scene. Which brings me on to the translated dialogue, which did seem a little oddly phrased at times. Argubaly this adds to the enjoymet of the film!
With some rather bizzare musical sequences, including a rather catching soundtrack and some great corny dialogue-not understanding the plot may not necessarily matter. For instance the musical sequences and the theme somehow has a symbolic reference, depending on how you look at it.
I mean, every musical sequence, was injected with a colourful pop art like backdrop, which is pratically postmodern. What I loved about that is that is it really depicts the 1960's so well.
Intrestingly, I noticed some of changing of scenes, was at time done so quick that you got lost in the story. Not quite sure of the purpose of that but somehow it doesn't matter. One brilliant thing to look out for is the changing colour in the openinging sequence, then to colour. This makes it feel like a distant memory or some sorts.
Overall, you can tell from my review that I don't watch a lot of Japanese cinema from the 1960's, so apologies for that. I highly recomend this film for it's gorgeous set design and one theme that you'll be whistling for hours. The plot is conventional, but at times hard to follow. If you keep at it you'll feel like you've watched an excellent film!
Look out for the brilliant end sequence!
A young Tetsuya Watari plays the lead here, as Tetsuya "Phoenix", your usual honorable pre-Fukasaku yakuza lead that just wants to go straight after his boss disbanded the band he was in. As usual for this type of stories, Tetsuya gets betrayed and chased by all sorts of enemies.
"Average" and "usual" ends exactly at that point, while things start quite pedestrian Suzuki wastes no time in twisting the narrative and the color composition. From scenarios that switch between one color to another, to Tetsuya Watari's sky blue suit and all the way to the snowy mountains of Japan, the film becomes a strange mix. Suzuki can be blamed for being a style over substance director, yet the style of a film like this was so out of control and creative, for both the era and even for today's standards, that it's hard not to admire the man. How can you say no to a film where the main characters whistles the main theme of said film?
Catchiest theme song ever + Tetsuya Watari + Suzuki's creative takes = safe winner. Nikkatsu might had fire him for BTK, but i'm surprised they didn't do it for this one. The film is so out there it looks as if it has been made in another dimension.
And again, i dare you not to love that theme song. You will end whistling it when you less expect it.
A '60s Japanese gangster movie that plays more like an urban western. There's even a barroom brawl! Tarantino has said this was one of the inspirational films for Kill Bill Vol. 1, I didn't know that until afterwards but while watching this some elements of KB came to mind like the color schemes and the suit & tie gang of hoods and the glass-floored club. Visually striking, dramatically routine, and displays some of the most discontinuous editing ever put on screen, it's like a style of its own! Plus you have to hear the theme song about 15 times.
Well worth a look, recommended.
Not to be confused with Tokyo Drift, which is part of the Fast and the Furious franchise (the title could have been a tip of the hat to this movie though). Tokyo Drifter is about a Yakuza gangster who has tried to go straight and is forced to wonder the countryside alone to protect his X-boss and girlfriend.
I remember the theme song from back when I was going to college. I worked in a Japanese restaurant and they'd play those two songs (Blue Clouds and Tokyo Drifter). We would get many homesick Japanese businessmen that would come in and many of them would sing along tearfully with the music. The song sounded so sad, but I never heard it again until I saw the Kill Bill movie where they included it as an homage to this movie. But, director, Seijun Suzuki's use of color and black & white in the film is also copied in the Kill Bill movies.
It's your standard gangster fare. Tetsu "the Phoenix" Hondo (Tetsuya Watari) joins his Boss, Kurata (Ryuji Kita) decision to go straight and disbands his gang. The rival gangs want more than just Kurata's territory. They want his straight business too. Tetsuya (who is ultra cool in his powder blue suit, white shoes and dangling cigarette) leaves town thinking that he is the one who is bringing the heat to his boss. He wanders the countryside trying to keep from getting arrested by the police or shot by these rivals gangs. This movie really celebrates the 60s and really makes me want to see Suzuki's Branded To Kill (1967), which is supposed to be even better.
While the plot synopsis here calls the movie "nearly incomprehensible", I didn't find it that difficult to follow. The movie is definitely more about style than substance, but after the somewhat complicated setup the plot really becomes rather simplistic.
In any case, the film features an engaging hero, striking use of color, some great sets, nifty music, and a cool final showdown.