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Tokyo Drifter (Criterion Collection)


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Frequently Bought Together

Tokyo Drifter (Criterion Collection) + Branded to Kill (The Criterion Collection) + Youth of the Beast (The Criterion Collection)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Tetsuya Watari, Chieko Matsubara, Hideaki Nitani, Tamio Kawachi, Tsuyoshi Yoshida
  • Directors: Seijun Suzuki
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: December 13, 2011
  • Run Time: 82 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005ND87RM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #115,623 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

New high-definition digital restoration

Video interviews with director Seijun Suzuki and Masami Kuzuu

Interview with Suzuki from 1997

Original theatrical trailer

New and improved English subtitle translation

PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Howard Hampton


Editorial Reviews

In this jazzy gangster film, reformed killer Phoenix Tetsu’s attempt to go straight is squashed when his former cohorts call him back to Tokyo to help battle a rival gang. This onslaught of stylized violence and trippy colors got director Seijun Suzuki (Branded to Kill) in trouble with Nikkatsu studio heads, who were put off by his anything-goes, in-your-face aesthetic, equal parts Russ Meyer, Samuel Fuller, and Nagisa Oshima. Tokyo Drifter is a delirious highlight of the brilliantly excessive Japanese cinema of the sixties.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

In Japan, what kind of film would ever feature a stoic, cool tough former gangster that can whistle or sing a song while guns are pointed at him?

The answer is "Tokyo Drifter", the 1966 film directed by Seijun Suzuki who has earned a worldwide following of cinema fans due to his experimental visual style, humor and nihilistic coolness that his style of films were ahead of its time.

While we are graced with films with visual style, humor and coolness by Beat Takeshi, Takashi Miike, Kazuaki Kiriya to name a few... Seijun Suzuki was part of the Nikkatsu company that churned two movies a week and had to work with a low budget, be creative and churn out a film within 25 days. Needless to say, executives didn't understand Suzuki's style, they criticized him, they talked down to him but what they didn't know was that his style was not being rebellious, it was his style.

You can call his style "surreal" but what Nikkatsu wanted was traditional-style filmmaking, Seijun Suzuki who created 40 B-movies for the company between 1956 and 1967 and he was anything but traditional.

After "Tokyo Drifter", he created two movies including his masterpiece "Branded to Kill" and the company had enough of Suzuki's style of filmmaking. While he never complained, he was fired from his job and successfully sued the company for wrongful dismissal but in Japanese business tradition, if you sue an entertainment company, you will be blacklisted (which still goes on today in Japan) and in this case, Suzuki was blacklisted for ten years.

In Japan, because he stood up to the big entertainment company, he became a counterculture icon and his films were shown at midnight screenings to a packed audience.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By B. Adducchio on May 13, 2014
If you've seen or appreciated the Kill Bill films, you should watch this movie, "Tokyo Drifter." It's an influence on Tarantino's Kill Bill Volume 1. "Tokyo Drifter" is a violent, hard-boiled gangster movie about an enforcer in a yakuza gang who tries to go straight but his past and connections come back to haunt him. He's forced to turn into a drifter, and must use his talents as a gunfighter to get revenge against the people who double-crossed him.

While this seems like a tired narrative, the director Suzuki's vision is anything but tired. It's completely original. He uses pop culture references of the 1960s to fuel his little crime masterpiece. Those influences come through art direction, musical score, costuming, and finally his screen shots.

A lot of people will turn off to this movie because it doesn't follow a continuity flow we're used to seeing in films. The movie jumps from one shot to another without connecting shots, so it can be difficult to follow the plot. I didn't have a big problem with that, in fact, I appreciated this unique form of storytelling.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Barrett TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 18, 2012
Seijun Suzuki crafted one of my favorite Japanese New Wave films in 'Take Aim at the Police Van' (1960 - available in the collection: Eclipse Series 17: Nikkatsu Noir (The Criterion Collection)). With this film, released in 1966, Suzuki enters new territory and creates a visual feast for the eyes in color. Though 'Branded to Kill' is considered his magnum opus, Tokyo Drifter is regarded as one of his best films. It has been compared to Godard's 'Pierrot le Fou', but I think the comparison shows what Suzuki's film is lacking compared to the nearly flawless New Wave romp that was Godard's film. And compared to some other amazing Japanese New Wave, I feel this film is great but perhaps a little too flamboyant at times.

A quick summary: this film is about ex-Yakuza Tetsuya (called Phoenix) and his attempts to 'go straight'. His boss is caught up in an extortion attempt by a former rival Yakuza gang, Otsuka. Despite Tetsuya's attempts to stay out of trouble, he must enter the criminal underbelly of Japan in order to save his boss. He soon ends up a marked man with a price on his head and becomes the 'drifter' of the title, evading rival gangs and hit men.

First and foremost, this film is considered a collage. Suzuki was obviously influenced by the mid 60s American pop culture movement. His film has references to Pollock and Warhol paintings, collages, and James Bond films. And don't be fooled by the James Bond references, Suzuki doesn't seem to be showing the Bond action in a very favorable light. It seems he pokes a little fun at the James Bond action without really getting into spoof territory.
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2 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Hashima Shata on May 26, 2013
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Every genre has its followers and though I enjoy different genres I cannot place this one. To me it is just a lot of pointless violence.
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Tokyo Drifter (Criterion Collection)
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