Branded to Kill


Branded to Kill (1967)



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Movie Info

A delirious fever dream of a film, Seijun Suzuki's Branded to Kill takes the familiar elements of "B"-movie crime drama and transforms them into something outrageously bizarre and unexpectedly poetic. The film's story centers on Hanada, a.k.a. "No. 3 Killer," the third-best hit man in Japanese organized crime. Near the top of his game, his fortunes change when he encounters Misako, a mysterious, death-obsessed woman who brings him a particularly difficult mission. In a famous moment indicative of the film's eccentric sensibility, a butterfly lands on his gun's sight at the exact moment he pulls the trigger, causing him to miss the shot. This failure means that the killer becomes the target, and must run for his life from his former employers, and the mysterious "No. 1 Killer." While the film does contain some spectacular action sequences, the story is played less as a suspense thriller than as a surrealistic, psychosexual nightmare, filled with grotesque imagery and strange touches, such as Misako's use of a dead bird's corpse as a rear-view mirror decoration, and his almost fetishistic fixation with the smell of boiling rice. Indeed, the narrative is at times so fragmented that it is often difficult to decipher exactly what is happening; however, the striking black-and-white cinematography and avant-garde editing provide the film with a dream logic all its own. Now considered by many critics a maverick classic comparable to the works of Samuel Fuller or Jean-Luc Godard, the film was less well received at the time of its original release, with its utter strangeness leading to director Suzuki's firing from the Nikkatsu studio and the near destruction of his career. ~ Judd Blaise, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Branded to Kill

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (4)

Genuinely fascinating and bizarre.

Jul 24, 2014 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

'Branded to Kill' is one of those films that feels so far ahead of its time, we may still not have caught up to it. The violence is raw, the sex even more so, and the monochrome photography is flawless.

Jul 23, 2014 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Reputedly one of Seijun Suzuki's finest works and unquestionably very stylish in its 'Scope framings (Jim Jarmusch copied a few shots from it in his Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai).

Jan 9, 2007 | Full Review…

Occasionally mystifying, but always witty, inventive and dazzling to look at.

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

Despite not following the rules and forgoing a traditional three-act structure, the film still manages to be engaging mostly thanks to the creative visuals and fantastic cinematography.

Nov 6, 2018 | Full Review…

Cult classic? Try one of the greatest films ever made.

Oct 9, 2017 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Branded to Kill


Hamada, the #3 killer with the rice-sniffing fetish, finds himself in trouble with the Organization after he falls in love with a woman with a death wish. BRANDED drips with 60s cool and is a near-perfect work of neo-surrealism in that, although the details often don't make sense, the big picture always does. Contains the memorable scenes of Hamada assassinating a man by shooting up a drainpipe and botching a hit when a butterfly lands on his gun barrel.

Greg S
Greg S

Super Reviewer


Nonsensical violence with some of the most poorly choreographed gunfights you'll ever see. A macabre train-wreck of a film that draws you in by appealing to that warped, illogical, action-craving part of your brain that everyone has and few acknowledge.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

Not the weird for the sake of being weird movie that I expected but has many unconventional & absurd moments, Overall fun & funny

Arash Xak
Arash Xak

Super Reviewer


Style made into substance. Just like Hausu, this is another movie that feels like it droped from some alternative dimension. Writting a review for this is beyond the point, you either going to dig this or not. Even if you end up disliking it by the end the fact will remain, there's no other movie like Branded to Kill, and will never be.

Tsubaki Sanjuro
Tsubaki Sanjuro

Super Reviewer

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