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Tokyo Drifter (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

4.0 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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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.

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


Product Details

  • Actors: Tetsuya Watari, Chieko Matsubara, Hideaki Nitani, Tamio Kawachi, Tsuyoshi Yoshida
  • Directors: Seijun Suzuki
  • Format: Anamorphic, Blu-ray, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: December 13, 2011
  • Run Time: 82 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005ND87L8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,033 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
The only reason Seijun Suzuki's "Toky Drifter" is getting four stars instead of five is because the story gets hokey and hard to follow at times. But what a wallop the visual fireworks and rapid-fire, jump-cut editing pack! "Tokyo Drifter" is easy to understand after viewing it a few times, but initially the story takes a back seat to Suzuki's inventive, French-New-Wave style of creating the images, which are breathtaking. "Phoenix," a reformed killer for the Yakuza, dreamily walks around Tokyo after quitting the racket, expecting to be executed. But when he is called back into duty to help rid the city of a rival gang, the film "drifts" into a surreal mix of equal parts Luis Bunuel, Sam Fuller and Jean Luc Godard. The action never lets up, and the film is a wonderfully funny mix of comedy and violence. The performers even break out into song at unexpected times, although the film is certainly not a musical. You just never know what to expect, which is what makes this little-seen film so much fun. "Tokyo Drifter" is unlike any film you have ever seen. It's a true original and Criterion presents it in a widescreen version that is terrific. Contains a rare, insightful interview with Japanese director Seijun Suzuki. In Japanese with English subtitles.
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By Yoshi on August 21, 2007
Format: DVD
A stylish gangsta piece of work by the great late Seijun Suzuki. If you've watched Kurosawa or Ozu then this is much different. More comparable to Kinju Fukasaki(BATTLE ROYALE). Not as good as BRANDED TO KILL but a fine Criterion piece none the less. A lonely soul gets pulled back into one last score to settle. Visually masterful and the score is brilliant. A little slow at times but the action is pretty much non stop throughout. Plus a big payoff at the end. I know you will be amazed with what you see. Quentin Tarantino may not admit this is one of his inspirations for RESOVOIR DOGS, but when you have the blue room, red room, white room, etc, it's hard not to believe there's some sort of connection there between Mr. White, Blond etc. A must see film if you're a lover of art and crime noir. One of Seijun's top 5 films.
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Format: DVD
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.
Read more ›
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
While not as insane a Branded To Kill (Suzuki's masterful yakuza crazy-noir), this one is just enough off-center to be considered not quite normal. The colors are bright and fantastically tantalizing (at least on blu-ray), and the mono sound is ample- love that recurring theme song (sung by the lead character) and the general goofiness which makes this film a masterful must-have for those of you who like their films to make them think (about what I have no idea). Criterion does their usual fantastic job making this one worth an upgrade over their earlier weak effort on dvd. A couple of interviews for extra features round off this necessary addition to any great film library....even if you turn the sound off, the visuals are enough to keep one's interest....this is a very well done film with masterful editing and strange colors that sometimes make it look like an early James Bond film or a Batman episode....great stuff here....
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By someone on February 27, 2015
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I looked forever. Fantastic piece of film noire. Gritty tale about trying to escape the Japanese mafia and being drug back in. Bought it second hand in "very good" condition. Very grateful, many thanks.
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Format: DVD
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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