When Japanese New Wave bad boy Seijun Suzuki delivered this brutal, hilarious, and visually inspired masterpiece to the executives at his studio, he was promptly fired. Branded to Kill tells the ecstatically bent story of a yakuza assassin with a fetish for sniffing steamed rice (the chipmunk-cheeked superstar Joe Shishido) who botches a job and ends up a target himself. This is Suzuki at his most extreme—the flabbergasting pinnacle of his sixties pop-art aesthetic.
Seijun Suzuki was born in Nihonbashi, Tôkyô, on May 24, 1923. In 1943, he entered the army to fight at the front. In 1946, he enrolled in the film department of the Kamakura Academy and passed the assistant director’s exam. For the next few years, he worked as an assistant director at several studios. In 1958, he directed his first film, Minato no kanpai: Shôri o waga te ni (1956), and from then on he directed three to four films each year. With Branded to Kill (1967), he came into conflict with Hori Kyusaku, who was the president of Nikkatsu Studios at the time. Because of this, he was forced to work in television the next ten years. In 1977, Hishu monogatari (1977), his return to theatrically-released films, was released. Suzuki continues his prolific output to this day.