Branded to Kill (UK - BD RB)
Marcus takes a quick (and late) look at this new Arrow release on Blu-ray disc
From the Arrow Synopsis: Seijun Suzuki’s delirious 1967 hit-man film has drawn comparisons with contemporaries Le Samourai and Point Blank and influenced directors such as John Woo, Jim Jarmusch and Quentin Tarantino among others.
The story of laconic yakuza Hanada, aka ‘No. 3 Killer’, the third rated hit-man in Japan who takes an impossible job from the mysterious, death obsessed Misako. Hanada bungles the hit and finds himself the target of his employers and a bullet ridden journey leads him to face the No. 1 Killer.
Shot in cool monochrome with beguiling visuals, Branded to Kill is an effortlessly cool crime film with a jazzy score that caused Suzuki to be fired by the studio’s executives but is now rightly recognised as his masterpiece.
The crisp black and white image here looks slick and at times almost modern with its strong black levels and clean polished greys. Black levels are incredibly deep adding lots to the stylish visuals throughout and the glowing, well lit imagery shines within this Blu-ray presentation. It’s sometimes hard to believe these older pictures can look this good and in certain scenes the film appears almost ageless due to the crispness of the image with its sharp edges and well constructed shots. The image has the occasional, ever so slight flicker that you really only notice if you really zone in on it and some exterior scenes hold more filmic grain than others but generally speaking this is a hell of a clean up for the 1967 hit-man movie and its new found HD glow does it wonders.
The mono audio here is a bit hollow sounding with very little going on besides the crisp dialogue and pretty heavy handled sound effects, making for a fairly stylishly sparse film where the moody score helps to add the cool whenever it creeps in. Shoot outs are strong enough, dialogue is clear with only the slightest memory of crackle or ageing and for such a small audio presentation it still manages to hit the right levels at all the right times with little holding it back.
The extras consist of an interview with Seijun Suzuki (07:08 HD) and second interview with Jo Shishido (06:41 HD) both are short and sweet but spill with affection for the film.
'Trapped in Lust' (01:13 HD) is described as a "delirious porno re-imagining of Branded to Kill" . It’s pretty much (though it’s pretty tame by today’s standards if you’re thinking of jumping in because they mentioned porno. It also features the trailer (02:07 HD)
Lastly we have the Branded to Kill Trailer and the film on DVD.
Branded to Kill is a super stylish, erotically charged drama, that plays with great visuals and takes us to places that you can see has echoed through many other filmmaker’s works since. The Blu-ray looks fantastic and should have fans of the film grinning from ear to ear. The film specific extras are short and sweet but you do get an entire 70s porno spin on the film thrown in, so the disc isn’t exactly light on bonuses.
* Note: The images below are taken from the Blu-ray and have been resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking the individual images, but due to .jpg compression, they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 18th August 2014
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: LPCM 1.0 Japanese
Extras: Interviews, Trapped in Lust Movie, Trailers
Easter Egg: No
Director: Seijun Suzuki
Cast: Jô Shishido, Kôji Nanbara, Isao Tamagawa
Genre: Crime and Drama
Length: 90 minutes
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