films seen
16/57
average score
2.31*
nationality
Japan - 93 years old
status
R.I.P. (1923 - 2017)
more info

Japanese maverick director with an inimitable oeuvre. An amiable man and a proponent of style over substance cinema. I'm not the biggest fan of his oldskool aesthetics, but required viewing for people with a taste for the weird.

Rare treats

Pistol Opera

by Seijun Suzuki
Also known as
Pisutoru Opera
Specifics
2001 / 112m - Japan
Genre
Comedy, Crime
More info:
rating
4.5*/5.0*
toplist position
Pistol Opera poster

Pistol Opera is not the easiest of films. You have to accept that the story is a mere hook for some cinematic fun while Suzuki takes a little run with his audience.

Solid pieces

Princess Raccoon

by Seijun Suzuki
Also known as
Operetta Tanuki Goten
Specifics
2005 / 111m - Japan
Genre
Comedy, Fantasy, Musical
More info:
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Princess Raccoon poster

Yumeji

by Seijun Suzuki
Specifics
1991 / 128m - Japan
Genre
Drama, Biography
More info:
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Yumeji poster

One of Suzuki's better films. It's what more poetic than your average biography, leaning on beautiful imagery, a strong soundtrack and some trademark Suzuki weirdness. There's a little too much dialogue at times and the quality isn't entirely consistent, but there's plenty to like here, especially if you're a fan of Suzuki's more experimental side.

The inoffensive

Lupin III: Legend of the Gold of Babylon

by Seijun Suzuki, Shigetsugu Yoshida
Also known as
Rupan Sansei: Babiron no Ogon Densetsu
Specifics
1985 / 100m - Japan
Genre
Comedy, Adventure, Animation
More info:
rating
3.0*/5.0*
Lupin III: Legend of the Gold of Babylon poster

A typical Lupin adventure, made slightly more interesting by Seijun Suzuki's involvement and a very strong 70s vibe that runs through the film. It doesn't change too much about the core of Lupin though. Silly, over-the top action, a charming set of characters and one-dimensional bad guys. A fun diversion, but nothing more.

A Mummy's Love

by Seijun Suzuki
Also known as
Miira no Koi
Specifics
1973 / 45m - Japan
Genre
Horror, Mystery
More info:
rating
3.0*/5.0*
A Mummy's Love poster

Suzuki doing horror is quite new for me, but the man has a knack for the weird so it's actually a pretty good match. The film is short, even so quite a lot happens in a short span of time. The story is mysterious and strange rather than full-on horror, with a little comedy thrown in to balance things out. Surprisingly fun and entertaining.

The Fang in the Hole

by Seijun Suzuki
Also known as
Ana no Kiba
Specifics
1979 / 46m - Japan
Genre
Mystery, Crime
More info:
rating
3.0*/5.0*
The Fang in the Hole poster

An interesting and short TV film/special from the hands of Seijun Suzuki. It's remarkable how much freedom he received to make this film. The production value is relatively low, but Suzuki was allowed to experiment with form as well as narrative here, which is when he's at his best.

The film revolves around the shooting of Shida, a local criminal. After being trapped in a bar, a policeman shoots him right in the head. The autopsy can't find the bullet and the only explanation is that it ricocheted inside is head and came out the same way again. Not long after, the policeman who shot him is being haunted by the ghost of Shida.

The budget may have been limited, Suzuki made excellent use of the cinematography and the soundtrack to create a quirky and off-kilter atmosphere. The plot is fun, performances are decent, and the short runtime definitely plays in the film's favor. An entertaining entry in Suzuki's unpredictable oeuvre.

Dubious filler

Heat-Haze Theatre

by Seijun Suzuki
Also known as
Kagero-za
Specifics
1981 / 139m - Japan
Genre
Romance, Mystery
More info:
rating
2.0*/5.0*
Heat-Haze Theatre poster

Much like Zigeunerweisen, this is a Suzuki film that holds a lot of potential, but is way too long and gets a bit sluggish after a while. If Suzuki had managed to cut this back to 90-100 minutes it would've been a much better film, now it took me quite a bit of effort and stamina to reach the end.

That's not to say nothing interesting happens. Suzuki remains his old self and quirky, weird and goofy ideas are littered throughout the film. The biggest problem is the moments in between, the sometimes endless conversations and theater performances that seem to suck much of the energy out of Heat-haze Theatre.

The cinematography is interesting, often very colorful and well-framed. The soundtrack is a bit too dependent on classic Japanese songs and the plot a bit too sparse to fill 140 minutes, but at least Suzuki kept it interesting until the end. It's just a shame that there are too many generic intermissions.

Youth of the Beast

by Seijun Suzuki
Also known as
Yajû no Seishun
Specifics
1963 / 92m - Japan
Genre
Action, Crime
More info:
rating
2.0*/5.0*
Youth of the Beast poster

An early Suzuki that show signs of a budding director. The film is little more than a typical Yakuza tale, but a more outspoken set design, decent use of color and the presence of Jô Shishido give the film some extra flair. It's not a bad effort, but a little too basic to be engaging, especially when comparing it to Suzuki's later films.

Take Aim at the Police Van

by Seijun Suzuki
Also known as
'Jûsangô Taihisen' Yori: Sono Gosôsha o Nerae
Specifics
1960 / 79m - Japan
Genre
Mystery, Crime
More info:
rating
2.0*/5.0*
Take Aim at the Police Van poster

One of the early Suzuki films. It took Suzuki a while to truly develop his kooky signature style, though shimmers of it are already visible here. For the most part though, Take Aim at the Police Van is just a stylish little noir where the setup proves more interesting than the way everything pans out.

Tamon is a security guard tasked with the protection of two prisoners while they're being transported. A sniper gets the better of him though and kills the prisoners. Tamon is fired from his job, but can't deal with the fact that the case was never cleared up. With nothing else to do, he decides to go out and investigate himself.

The stylish black and white cinematography is the clear highlight of this film. Performances are decent but nothing special, the soundtrack doesn't add much and the plot is rather mediocre. It's a good thing the film is short, so there's hardly any time for it to start dragging.

Underworld Beauty

by Seijun Suzuki
Also known as
Ankokugai no Bijo
Specifics
1958 / 87m - Japan
Genre
Action, Crime
More info:
rating
2.0*/5.0*
Underworld Beauty poster

Plain forgettable

Zigeunerweisen

by Seijun Suzuki
Also known as
Tsigoineruwaizen
Specifics
1980 / 144m - Japan
Genre
Horror, Mystery
More info:
rating
1.5*/5.0*
Zigeunerweisen poster

Branded to Kill

by Seijun Suzuki
Also known as
Koroshi no Rakuin
Specifics
1967 / 91m - Japan
Genre
Crime
More info:
rating
1.5*/5.0*
Branded to Kill poster

Tokyo Drifter

by Seijun Suzuki
Also known as
Tôkyô Nagaremono
Specifics
1966 / 82m - Japan
Genre
Action, Crime
More info:
rating
1.5*/5.0*
Tokyo Drifter poster

Life of a Tattooed Man

by Seijun Suzuki
Also known as
Irezumi Ichidai
Specifics
1965 / 87m - Japan
Genre
Drama, Crime
More info:
rating
1.5*/5.0*
Life of a Tattooed Man poster

A Tale of Sorrow and Sadness

by Seijun Suzuki
Also known as
Hishu Monogatari
Specifics
1977 / 93m - Japan
Genre
Drama
More info:
rating
1.5*/5.0*
A Tale of Sorrow and Sadness poster

Seijun Suzuki's comeback film. After 10 years of silence, Suzuki returned to the world of cinema, though somewhat haphazardly. A Tale of Sorrow and Sadness contains vague traces of Suzuki's trademark style, but it's no doubt one of the oddest entries in his oeuvre (mostly because it isn't very odd at all).

The plot revolves around Reiko, who stands on the verge of becoming a great golf player. The agency that represents her has different plans for Reiko though, and tries to sell her off as a model. Reiko decides to play along, but soon finds herself losing her own sense of identity as her agency keeps pushing her to become something she is not.

Performances are quite mediocre and the film exudes a 70s vibe (not really a positive in my book). Apart from some interestingly edited scenes and a quirky soundtrack, Suzuki's signature is mostly absent and the film is actually pretty straightforward. The story isn't really that interesting though, making this a somewhat lackluster film in Suzuki's oeuvre. For completists only.

Big nopes

Cherry Blossoms in Spring

by Seijun Suzuki
Also known as
Seijun Sakura Hensou
Specifics
1983 / 80m - Japan
Genre
Drama
More info:
rating
1.0*/5.0*
Cherry Blossoms in Spring poster

I felt bad for Suzuki watching this film. I'm not his biggest fan and he has made his share of misfires, but even then his skills and vision have always been unmistakable. This TV film really is below Suzuki's standards. There are traces of his usual quirkiness here, but the execution is simply atrocious.

The premise is pretty bare bones. A man is driving through Japan, chasing the cherry blossoms. On his trip he runs into a mysterious blind woman, who joins him on his trip. Add some folklore and the usual Suzuki oddness and you should have a pretty good idea of what to expect from this one.

Suzuki clearly didn't have the budget to execute, so maybe he shouldn't even have tried. The film has potential and if you look through the cheap execution that you can see glimpses of what this could've been, but that never came to be and what remains is a real stinker of a film. Poor Suzuki.