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Gate of Flesh (The Criterion Collection)

4.4 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In the shady black markets and bombed-out hovels of post–World War II Tokyo, a tough band of prostitutes eke out a dog-eat-dog existence, maintaining tenuous friendships and a semblance of order in a world of chaos. But when a renegade ex-soldier stumbles into their midst, lusts and loyalties clash, with tragic results. With Gate of Flesh, visionary director Seijun Suzuki delivers a whirlwind of social critique and pulp drama shot through with brilliant colors and raw emotions.


Gate of Flesh (Nikutai no mon) is another wonderful example of why Seijun Suzuki will go down in history as one of Japan's craftiest and most ingenious B-movie directors. As exhibited in Branded to Kill and Tokyo Drifter Suzuki has the uncanny ability to take shoestring budgets, predictable boilerplate scripts, tight schedules, and studio-contracted actors and spin these elements to create extremely deep and layered films. Gate of Flesh is no exception. In post-World War II Japan, life on the Tokyo streets has become desperate. Amidst the ruins, a tough, well-worn group of prostitutes bands together for survival and companionship. When an ex-soldier enters into the circle, flames of jealousy, anger, and lust are fueled, ending with disastrous results. On the surface, the story is a simple pulp tale of decadence thrown together by Nikkatsu Studios to make a quick buck. But, in the hands of Suzuki-san, Gate of Fleshturns into a hallucinatory, surreal, critical post-modern essay on the decline of loyalty and morality in modern society. --Rob Bracco

Special Features

  • New video interview with director Seijun Suzuki and art director Takeo Kimura
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Stills gallery of archival production photos
  • A new essay by noted Asian cinema critic Chuck Stephens

Product Details

  • Actors: Jô Shishido, Kôji Wada, Yumiko Nogawa, Tomiko Ishii, Kayo Matsuo
  • Directors: Seijun Suzuki
  • Writers: Gorô Tanada, Taijirô Tamura
  • Producers: Kaneo Iwai
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: July 26, 2005
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009HLCUQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #108,914 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Gate of Flesh (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Back in 1964, as it is still to this day, Japan has always rated their movies for two specific audiences only. In America, we rate movies, R, PG, PG-13, and even G (although, I don't think anything qualifies as G anymore). In Japan, it's either Adult or General Audience. This movie "Gate of Flesh" is definitely a Japanese Adult film. We get nudity, sex, fowl language, and even violent beatings and torture.

I love the raw, filthy extent of decadence that Seijun Sazuki has created for this film. Out of all the film's he's created, for some reason, he seems to be mildly ashamed of this one. He and production designer Takeo Kimura has created a cult classic of fabulous artistic visual achievement.

As you are aware, this film is about the life of prostitutes living within the war ravished ruins of the streets of Tokyo, just after the end of World War II. The main focus is on 5 Japanese girls. Prostitutes that work for themselves (no pimps), and share a burned out abandoned building, and live by certain set rules. They sell themselves on the streets and keep their money for themselves, however, if any of the girls give away sex for free, the other girls will tie her up and beat her senseless. All the girls are beautiful and yet their sweaty, filthy appearance actually contributes to what makes this film look so good.

What makes this film so beautiful to watch is how each of the girls wear a specific color of dress, which adds to the way the girls differ from each other, and although it was never initially intended, the Japanese audience actually created a personality perception based on colors, of the girls identified by the specific colors of how they were dressed.
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Format: VHS Tape
Yet another brilliant work from director Suzuki Seijun, who manages, in this film, to create a world in which lurid pulp paperback cover paintings have come to life! This tale of black market thugs, prostitutes, and the rampant desperation of mere existence in post-WWII Tokyo is incredibly stunning on all counts. Suzuki somehow manages to be bleakly realistic and gloriously surrealistic all in one brush stroke. This is excellent exploitation cinema--not to be missed by anyone claiming to be a Japanese film buff!
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Format: DVD
I admit some degree of defeat after watching Seijun Suzuki's film Branded to Kill. Here's a movie that messed with my mind something awful; that constantly required me to reset my thought process just to be able to make heads or tales of what I was seeing. But every time I would calibrate my brain to get in step with Branded to Kill, the damn movie would do something perplexing to throw me off. There were some parts of the movie that I could comprehend, like a grown man peeing his pants. Or people with guns running around. Those things made sense to me. But otherwise I was dumbfounded.

Recently, I decided to give Seijun Suzuki another shot and check out his prostitute exploitation movie, Gate of Flesh. Man, what a completely different experience this movie was. While Branded to Kill is a frustrating avant-garde attention span torture device of a movie, Gate of Flesh is about cute Japanese prostitutes who wear colorful dresses... and torture the sweet crap out of each other.

Set just after World War II in Japan, when American soldiers were ever-present and the stench of desolation and defeat burned the collective nostrils of a once proud nation, Gate of Flesh is joyfully grim heap of fun. Seijun Suzuki himself acknowledges that this movie was intended to be an exploitation picture, but that didn't stop him from loading Gate of Flesh with lovely colors, stylish sets, and quirky visual flourishes. Gate of Flesh combines two of my favorite things, visual flair and tittilation, into a handsome package.

The main characters of the film are a group of prostitutes that don't see much good in slaving for a pimp, so they take care of each other under one condition: don't provide sex for free. This, of course, rules out having any meaningful relationship with men.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
For the second time since the vanishing of the samurai in the later half of the 1800s, the Japanese society lost its highly militaristic society, but this time to ultimate defeat and chaos. The Japanese military was on the retreat when the Americans delivered the final punch through their dropping of Little Boy and Fat Man - the atomic bombs. Tokyo was in a sense more fortunate than Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as they only had to deal with definitive destruction of firebombs dropped on the city. Nonetheless, in a heap of ashes and debris Tokyo reemerged through a chaotic mess where food, shelter, and clothing were something of a luxury. Within the bedlam of Tokyo, some people discovered that they had to find a way to survive despite the hardships. There were also those who found opportunity to make financial gains within the social confusion, as their dubious intentions sought profit of those less fortunate. Gate of Flesh by Seijun Suzuki provides a dark and dismal perspective of post-war Tokyo through a small number of characters portraying a large part of the Japanese society.

Suzuki opens with a shot of Maya (Yumiko Nogawa), a young homeless woman shocked by the sudden fall of the Japanese Empire, who aimlessly drifts with the constant flow of people. Her lost presence together with the raspy lyrics of a record symbolically presents the societal confusion of everything that has been lost to the devastating fire. The wandering eyes of Maya hunt for food, safety, and possibly belonging while dodging the dangers that lurk in the background. The law has no compassion for humanity, as it seeks the desperate survivors that have no other choice than to pursue illegal alternatives to survive.
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Gate of Flesh (The Criterion Collection)
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