Watched: October 11 2020

Director: Seijun Suzuki

Starring: Tetsuya Watari, Chieko Matsubara, Ryûji Kita, Eiji Gô, Hideaki Nitani, Tamio Kawaji

Year: 1966

Runtime: 1h 29min

Small disclaimer: we were unable to get our grabby hands on the recently added #279 The War Game in time for the blog, so we’re skipping that for now. We might return to it later if we can find it. But for now, we have moved on to #280: Tokyo Drifter!

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Hey kids! Wanna watch something incredibly stylish and cool? But at the same time you feel the need to watch something which will up your social capital and teach you something about a different culture? Or perhaps you’re just really tired of the world and want to look at some pretty colours? Well, have we got the film for you!

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“Which colour did you want in this shot again?” “ALL OF THEM!”

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Tokyo Drifter is as stylish as they come (checks the cool-box), is Japanese (checks the culture-box) and is also filled to the brim with pretty colours (checks the why-can’t-the-world-just-leave-me-alone-box)!

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Actiony AND artsy. It’s like a cheese-covered broccoli-movie!

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Tetsu (Watari) and his boss are reformed yakuza who are trying to go straight. However, their former rivals have other plans, and soon they are drawn back into the world of crime. To avoid brutal death, Tetsu must go a-roaming around Japan. But sooner or later return to Tokyo becomes unavoidable…

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“These shoes were made for walkin’, but not in this fucking snow! One of these days these shoes are gonna walk back to Tokyo.”

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Did we mention how cool this film is? ‘Cause it is so cool! The clothes, the colours, the sets, the music, the gangsters – you’ll be hard pressed to find something more stylish. It is as ’60s as they come in all the right ways. Also, there are both guns and swords at play here, which is never wrong.

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“All right, so everyone is clear on the rules? We get up and dance around, and whoever is still standing when the music stops has to die.”

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So OK, Tetsu annoyed us a little bit in the end, walking away from his girlfriend to live as a “Tokyo Drifter,” which struck us as a bit of a self-serving “sacrifice.” Other than that, there was nothing here we didn’t love. And now we want to visit Japan in the 1960s… Wearing bullet proof vests, obviously.

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Bullet proof vests can only get you so far though…

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What we learned: It is hard leaving a life of crime behind.

Next time: What’s Up, Tiger Lily? (1966)

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