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Branded to Kill (1967)
Episode 62nd October 2022 • Film Trace • Film Trace
00:00:00 01:03:59

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The sixth and final film in our Absurdist Action cycle is Seijun Suzuki's masterpiece, Branded to Kill (1967)

When we decided to do Absurdist Action as the theme of this cycle, we both struggled to find a starting point. Over-the-top action movies were the lingua franca of 1980s American cinema, and we had dozens of Reagan-era films to choose from as an origin. But as we tried to trace the theme back further, things became quite murky: Kung Fu, James Bond, Micheal Cimino, heist movies, cop movies, military shoot 'em ups. Chris wisely choose this yakuza B movie as our starting point, and it rings incredibly true to the theme.

The undercurrent that connects Bullet Train to Bad Boys to 48 Hrs can be seen clearly in Seijun Suzuki's surrealist gonzo hitman film. Branded to Kill was shot in 25 days and edited in the three days before it was released. It was a factory film. The studio hated it and fired Suzuki. It was mostly unseen outside of Japan until the late 1990s when it was released on home video. Branded To Kill is a fever dream that runs solely on poetic logic. It is definitely absurd, and intoxicatingly provocative. Explicit sex, epic violence, and free verse plotting make this the missing link of Absurdist Action films.

For our chaser film, we beat back the current of modern cinema to explore Beat the Devil (1953), a lark from John Huston and Truman Capote that became kitsch for the coastal elite set.




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