Youth of the Beast (The Criterion Collection)
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In large measure, this uptick in esteem is can be traced to the film industry finally catching up to Suzuki. His classic mid-60s films (Youth of the Beast, Gate of Flesh, Tokyo Drifter and Branded to Kill) featured a powerful combination of brutal, explicit and often sadistic violence, morbid humor, a keen sense of the ridiculous and a visual and narrative style that is fractured and often hallucinatory, all held together (or, rather, defiantly not held together) by a totalizing nihilism that denies any higher or greater meaning to actions beyond the demonstratable consequences of action itself. This made for cinema that, at the time, was incomprehensible to many viewers, and Suzuki was famously fired by Nikkatsu in 1967 for making films that "make no sense and make no money." Decades later, however, the potency of his best films is keenly appreciated by many cinephiles raised on Pulp Fiction and Natural Born Killers (both almost completely derivative of Suzuki's work).
Suzuki himself identified Youth of the Beast as marking the beginning of his most creatively fertile period, and all the distinctive elements of his filmmaking are in evidence, and meshing perfectly.Read more ›
"Youth of the Beast" ("Yaju no Seishun") is no exception. A typical revenge-plot, with the "good cop" posing as "bad cop" to get in good with the gangsters before enacting his vengeance, Suzuki takes it up a notch with innovative camera work and vivid, colorful imagery. By no means the wild ride of something like "Branded to Kill," it is still a quality Yakuza flick, Suzuki-style. There is more than a hint of "Yojimbo" in this film, but the similarities are soon forgotten.
Suzuki's visuals are well-served by tough-guy standby Shishido Jo, famous for his plastic surgery to give himself a more rugged look. Veteran of many of Suzuki's flicks, he brings an authenticity and a grounding-point in the convoluted world of gang-politics. Watanabe Misako brings a nice tenderness to the tough-guy world, as the wife of a detective who was killed.
The Criterion DVD for "Youth of the Beast" is fairly bare-boned, on par with their release for Suzuki's "Fighting Elegy." The picture is lovely, the original soundtrack and dialog are preserved, and it is a film not likely to be offered elsewhere. One could have hoped for more on the DVD release, but it is nice to have it available at all.
The film opens in black and white with a large crowd that has gathered in curiosity outside a small hotel. A man is found dead with a dead woman on top of him in one of the hotel's tiny rooms. The police are investigating the scene while one police detective is reading out loud what seems to be a suicide note. Consequently, the police detective voices the obvious nature of the deadly incident that has taken place in the room hours earlier while another police officer comments on how lucky the dead man must have been to have had a loving mistress such as the dead woman on the floor. Further investigation of the room reveals the dead man's line of work, as he used to be a police detective. After this short opening, the film turns into a colored cinematic experience, as it makes a short leap into the future.
Initially, it seems a little confusing where the story is going, as the audience is allowed to follow a thug trying to enter the world of yakuza, the Japanese mafia.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've become a fan to director Suzuki via the excellent 'Branded to Kill' and very good 'Tokyo Drifter'. This may be the best one of the 3Published 22 months ago by RMS
People think if someone can make a movie and pack it full of style and no story it becomes a classic, well at least Criterion thinks that way. Read morePublished on January 26, 2013 by Joseph
Before I discovered 'Youth of the Beast' in an email newsletter, I knew nothing about the Japanese gangster films of the '60's. Read morePublished on October 30, 2009 by Bryan Byrd
Certainly faster-paced and more violent than some if director Seijun Suzuki's other outings. Star Jo Shishido (a frequent leading man in Suzuki films) is a man on a mission and... Read morePublished on April 24, 2008 by telecaster62
An audacious early outing from cult Japanese director Seijun Suzuki and the Nikkatsu studio, "Beast" is a hip, pulp-gangster flick with a twisty revenge plot involving murder,... Read morePublished on July 2, 2007 by John Farr
Youth of the Beast is a wild, erratic, over stylized pop gangster film that is hard not to like. Director Seijun Suzuki is a mad painter, and the film is his canvas. Read morePublished on October 7, 2005 by Donny
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