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Pistol Opera

2001

NR
3.1 out of 5 stars (9) IMDb 6.4/10

(Japanese with English subtitles) Stray Cat is the No. 3 assassin in Japan's professional killer guild. Ordered to kill No. 1, Stray Cat knows that if she succeeds, she'll become the guild's reigning assassin. Told in Seijun Suzuki's trademark style, the film blends fractured narrative with lurid and heavily stylized action sequences.

Starring:
Makiko Esumi, Sayoko Yamaguchi
Runtime:
1 hour, 52 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Drama, Action
Director Seijun Suzuki
Starring Makiko Esumi, Sayoko Yamaguchi
Supporting actors Hanae Kan, Masatoshi Nagase, Mikijirô Hira, Kirin Kiki, Kenji Sawada, Haruko Katô, Tomio Aoki, Yôji Tanaka, Yoshiyuki Morishita, Kensaku Watanabe, Jan Woudstra
Studio Asian Crush
MPAA rating NR (Not Rated)
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Plot doesn't count.

Not with this baby. It doesn't matter about who's the No. 3 killer or who's No. 1 or No. 5 or...whatever. What matters, if it can be stated that way, is the constant barrage of visuals and the trying to be hip dialogue.

This is a wacky, peculiar movie. Some folks dismiss it as being a big bunch of nothing--very likely because there is no real linear plot. Some tout it as being a work of genius--possibly because, in addition to it having no real linear plot it has all kinds of surreal imagery and complete non-sequiturs (sp.?) plotwise, logic-wise, character-wise, and any other kind of way-wise. What I'm gonna do here is to say that it does have some elements of interest but that for anyone who loves character and/or plot development, this is NOT gonna do it for ya.

What we DO know is that the main character is a young woman, Stray Cat, who is the No. 3 killer and that there is a mysterious woman she hangs out with who is her "agent" and also that she, Stray Cat, has a much younger sister who wants to learn from her older sibling how to kill. We also meet Hundred Eyes, the No. 1 killer, Painless Man, the No. 5 killer--a long-bearded American who speaks Japanese, Teacher, the No. 2 killer--a man in a wheelchair, and various other "Numbers" all of whom have colorful names and, again, no character development at all.

The only real connection this has, it seems to me, to Branded to Kill, Suzuki's delirious 1967 film, is the similarity of the presence of "No. 1" and "No. 2" and all that. Other than that, this film is radically different.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Picture Sergio Leonne crossed with John Woo and then add a big dash of Martha Grahmm.
A visually unique film, a remake of Suzuki's 1967 film Branded to Kill, which (obliquely) tells the story of a young hit-person named Stray Cat (Brian Setzer jokes intentionally witheld) who has been forced into a killing tournament with other ranked assasins.
The aspect of this film that holds it in such sharp relief from others in the genre is the visualization. Suzuki use a few conventional setups, but on the whole the film shows an expresionist representation of the story taking place. There are even portions of Pistol Opera where dance becomes the intergral means of communicating plot to a viewer.
While it can be a bit confusing at times (I still don't get the deal with the bulldozer and the poppies) and has a taste of being filmed in a hurry (there was one scene where I stopped counting boom shots around 10 and a very important scene where someone runs into a "tree" and nearly knocks the flimsy thing over), these are nitpicks.
I just finished watching this film and wanted to write this while the experiance is fresh in my mind. My advice is to relax. If a story element has you frowning, give it a minute and things should become clear. Even if it doesn't, don't worry about it. This is a rad flick, a cool story with awesome visual impact.
Then watch it a second time and see if you can figure out what was going on with that dang bulldozer.
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Format: DVD
Pistol Opera is a difficult movie to watch. Scenes do not connect in a standard linear fashion. Movements are stylized, drawing more inspiration from modern dance movements than Tarentino-esque action flicks. Makiko-chan makes a compelling heroine, but we never get any insight on her character or any others. And the tempo of the movie slows towards the end, repeating certain shots, increasing the tedium and the desire for a more meaningful conclusion, which never comes.
Why four stars then? Suzuki is a master of this kind of cinematic tone-poem, and this is probably his most unrestrained work yet. It was just this bizarre vision which got him black-listed back in the 60's, and it comforting that he has lost none of his confidence in his own extremely unconventional style. Often visually stunning and filmed in beautiful primary colors (as opposed to "Branded to Kill", the 'prequel' which was in B&W), "Pistol Opera" gets off on its own audaciousness and if you're ready for a REALLY different trip to the movies, then maybe you're ready for this baby
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The remake of a crime-noir classic by the same director. Updated to modern standards, with a female lead, lots of black, gallows humor. Definitely see the stylish takes that are seen in Quentin Tarantino, and the hip French directors. Not much depth, and the original in B&W with male lead should be sought after.
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This is one of two films that I regret buying. I bought it because it is a "spiritual sequel" to Branded to Kill, which I felt was a pretty good assassin movie with just a couple incoherent scenes. But this is way more nonsensical than Branded, it barely has a plot. This movie seems like just an excuse for the director to film a plethora of what he thinks are "interesting" scenes; including one with guys in the background wearing sarongs, covered in grey paint that are not even acknowledged. Yep, that had zero relevance to any part of the story.

The only positive things about Pistol Opera are; one or two cool scenes (i.e. Stray Cat's assassination at the pool and part of her gunfight with the blonde guy), the movie's theme song and some of the characters are kinda cool too. This could have been an updated, modern day Branded to Kill, but is just another ridiculously wacky Japanese movie.
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