House of Bamboo - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

House of Bamboo Reviews

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Critique Threatt
Super Reviewer
October 5, 2010
A commercial picture directed by Sam Fuller. "House of Bamboo" reminds me a bit of "The Departed" but on a lighter scale(probably for commercial reasons). I admire the locations, Robert Stack as the undercover agent, Shirley Yamaguchi as the "Kimono girl" and Robert Ryan as the gangster kingpin.

Fuller is quite good with camera movement, the use of unexpected violence, and even taboo themes that deals with interracial. What did bother me was the visual idea of shooting on Cinemascope(for 3D effects), also felt the characters aren't really flushed out as they should have been, and the picture's climax also let me down. There should have been a better way to end the picture instead of using cheap violence.
September 23, 2010
post-war western domination of japan (symbolically or otherwise) with american gangsters in tokyo. it would like to be a noir but really is just a dud
½ September 18, 2010
Un film noir (en couleurs, par ailleurs sublimes) avec comme décor le Japon au lendemain de la guerre, il fallait oser, Fuller l'a fait ! Premier film hollywoodien à être entièrement tourné au Pays du Soleil Levant après 1945, House of Bamboo est surtout l'occasion pour Fuller de magnifier un pays qu'il aime tout en parlant de ce milieu qu'il connait bien, les gangsters. Le scénario est assez prévisible mais contient suffisamment de beaux moments pour tenir la route. Ces moments, ce n'est pas Robert Stack, un peu fade, qui s'y illustre, mais bien Robert Ryan, sublime en chef de gang dandy et homosexuel, éclatant lors du meurtre de son bras droit. Sans aucun doute le personnage le plus travaillé du film, et l'un des plus beaux chez Fuller en général. La scène finale, dans la zone de jeux pour enfants sur le toit d'un immeuble en plein coeur de Tokyo, est elle aussi mémorable.
March 31, 2010
Okay Sam Fuller flick.
½ February 19, 2010
Lackluster film noir from Samuel Fuller that focuses too much on showing off Japan than focusing on the tension that makes a good noir film. House of Bamboo is about a man that goes to Japan to investigate his friend's death, of course things aren't what they seem. The acting is fine, the direction is good, the problem is the pacing is sooo slow.
December 7, 2009
Even with Roberts Ryan and Stack, it really didn't engage me.
½ October 2, 2009
Despite being color, the tone is unmistakably noir, and I always enjoy watching noir. The Tokyo setting is a nice twist, and Fuller makes good use of the locations. The story is nothing new, but it's a fun time with a thrilling ending. I have yet to be all that impressed by Fuller, but this is my favorite of his so far, with a few very clever shots. As a child of the 70's and 80's, however, I can't look at Robert Stack without thinking about Airplane!.
August 27, 2009
Despite some of the indoor locations looking like a dressed up Hollywood set, they never look cheesy and the film rises above its limitations due to Fuller's respectful portrayal of Japan and its citizens. I thoroughly enjoyed Robert Ryan's villain, and also highly appreciated the fact that the Japanese characters appear authentic with language difficulties not swept under the carpet (see Ryan yelling into the phone "English!"). Wonderful use of Japanese locales and the cinemascope production allows the vibrant colours to bring the postwar Tokyo backdrop to life.

I'm slowly making my way through Fuller's back catalogue, but mark this one down as another winner.
½ July 16, 2009
Samuel Fuller is an odd nut to crack. Part all-american tough guy, part closeted liberal, part auteur , and part populist. His films are personal, and rough, and silly, and sloppy, and wonderful, and different from everybody else working in Hollywood. Pickup on South Street, White Dog, The Big Red One, Naked Kiss, Shock Corridor are all films I know by heart and to a certain extent worship.

House of Bamboo is not one of his greatest films, but one that you can tell was personal for the director. On the surface it's just another cops Vs. Gangster film, albit one set in the exotic milieu of post-war Tokyo. Buty underneath is a suprisingly smart, sometimes even sensitive(the interracial romance is actally touching, and the Japanese are presented with proper respect) movie.

It is not Fuller's masterpiece, but it's still better than so many other movies from other directors.
July 4, 2009
This is such an odd film noir gangsta flick. A) over and over agin it has the homophobic subext of 1950's ex- Army men turned Japanese gangsters who don't speak Japanese but manage to take over Tokyo from the Yakuza during American occupation of Japan.( Stack runs around Tokyo shaking down gambling houses by yelling at them in English as we all know foreigners especially Japanese, understand you better if you just yell.) B) The popculture moral climate of the 1950's and c) Tokyo cityscape before it became a interstellar road stop neon sign for passing UFOs. (And they wonder why all the space monsters attack Tokyo.) For Trek fans: DeForest Kelly plays a minor role gangster. d) The film is a remake or a previous 30's gangster film set in L.A.

If you like gangster films this is a bizarre but interesting side road.
February 17, 2009
i lived in japan for 7 years so i'm always keen to watch movies filmed there. here is tokyo nearly 50 years before i lived there - quite different.
in this movie a group of ex-u.s. army guys form a heist mob in post-war occupied japan. the u.s. army sends in an undercover man to take them down. the violence is quite graphic in this movie - one guy gets shot dead in a bathtub - but not gory (i.e. no blood).
it's a gangster/noir blend. i really enjoyed it. there aren't many movies of this type set in asia - there are plenty set in europe for some reason...
February 13, 2009
A deeper-than-it-appears film set in post-war Japan, in the noir tradition where the fine line between the good guys and bad guys is very much blurred. The astute viewer will also pick up on some suggested meanings in the multi-layered screenplay. Though historians will make more mention of the remarkable photography and use of actual locations in and around Tokyo. This makes the film an important historical document as it provides a seldom captured glimpse of what Japan and its people looked like in those years of rebuilding. As anyone who has been to Tokyo especially will tell you, the city is nothing like it was back then and seeing this film is a precious gem.
½ February 8, 2009
Another great film by Samuel Fuller but its quite different. Its in color and its got to be Fuller's most beautifully shot film. It definetly stil is classic fuller tackling gender and sexual issues. Its raw and has great dialogue as usual. One of Fuller's best.
December 28, 2008
Samuel Fuller in peak form. The photography is what really makes this movie shine though, especially the Cinemascope format which really amplifies the ending in an amusement park. Fuller also doesn't bother going in for cheap closeups during important scenes (which could also have to do with Cinemascope) and lets the scene play out without gimmicks.

Robert Ryan as always is stellar, especially in a scene where after he fills one of his henchmen that he suspects has betrayed him with bullet holes (while in a bathtub no less, that is now full of holes and pouring out water thanks to the bullets) then proceeds to have a very animated conversation with the corpse.

Part of the fantastic Fox Film Noir collection on DVD.
December 11, 2008
This is the worst Sam Fuller movie I've see so far.

It would have been really great but it gets bogged down with a stupid boring romantic subplot that doesn't really add anything other than maybe letting Stack hit on a Japanese chick.

I don't know, it just lacks the hard edge most Fuller movies I've seen have.

Robert Ryan is fucking great though.
November 22, 2008
As always, Fuller is brave in tackling sexual and gender issues in 1950s American cinema like no one else did or could -- perhaps apart from Douglas Sirk. In House of Bamboo, the use of color and the cinematography are wonderful, exploring the locale as the West clashes with the quite displaced -- even in the citizens' own cities and villages -- East. It's hard to believe that Fuller, whose previous films (especially Pickup on South Street) dealt strategically with dark, dank city images and innovative close-ups, is here mixing a colorful and richly nuanced cityscape with more expansive landscape and exterior shots, not to mention that the film itself relies on long- and medium-shots, eschewing close-ups altogether. What results is a film that exists in a liminal geographic locale just as it exists in a liminal space in terms of genre: it is hardly film noir, though it draws from that tradition, but it is deeply rooted in Fuller's unique exploration of the ways in which subversive and often transgressive characters can become central, the very focus of the narrative rather than merely marginal figures.
½ September 28, 2008
Some great Sam Fuller violence, but casting Robert Stack was kind of a bad idea. He has one setting as far as character goes and it doesn't always fit the film
September 14, 2008
An amazing film from Samuel Fuller shot, in scope, and in Japan. The photography is brilliant, and the story explores the usual Fuller mixture of sentimentality and brutality quite nicely.
July 3, 2008
A film-noir plot shot in widescreen and Technicolor with almost no nondiegetic music and a near complete absence of any shot closer than medium-wide? Very strange, especially from a director as characteristically visceral as Fuller. Still--treating the crime drama with the sensibilities of an epic--sizing up interrogation scenes to be long-take wide angles or shooting a death-bed scene entirely in one high-angle ceiling shot for example--this is also a very neat inversion of genre expectations. Creating a viewer-character distance through stylistic limitation of music, cuts, and angles, Fuller succeeds in finding a new and creative way to express the coldheartedness of the noir. It's an experiment that only partly works, the distancing effect also negating many thrills for those not paying RAPT attention.
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