But to imply that Suzuki was finally self-actualized as an artist once liberated from the clutches of the commercially safe Nikkatsu would be a patent mistruth.Not only did the eternally pragmatic and humble director embrace his responsibilities as an entertainer-for-hire (“I didn’t feel like rebelling against the system…I was just trying to grind out program pictures,” he submits), but it might also be argued that the industrial context within which Suzuki worked provided the walls he needed to push against in developing his filmmaking voice.Ten years of television features and corporate commissions followed before Suzuki was welcomed back into the theatrical film business with a smattering of works for smaller production companies, most of which satiated certain appetites left unfulfilled by his day job years earlier.It was in films like 1980’s , afforded him an unprecedented opportunity to push his action filmmaking eccentricities into overdrive on the dime of a sympathetic backer.
Suzuki would later win a court settlement against Hori’s actions and regain some of his dignity, though by that point his contract potential was more or less dead in the water.
Suzuki used this classic noir material to play with genre tropes and make expressive use of darkness and light.
,occupied midcentury Japan is an icky, sweat-soaked cesspool of sex and violence where principles have dipped so profoundly that medieval torture has become standard operating procedure within a strictly governed sorority of prostitutes.
A restless, tinkering innovator at heart who’d jumped from one lackluster or hostile environment to another during his youth, Suzuki was overdue for a sturdy support system to give shape to his talents, and it’s thanks to Nikkatsu’s leap of faith that a Japanese cinema seeking a new identity after the war was energized by one of its zaniest visionaries. Special thanks to: Tom Vick—Freer and Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institute; Kanako Shirasaki—The Japan Foundation, New York; Ned Hinkle—Brattle Theatre; Stacie Matsumoto—Reischauer Institute, Harvard. With Testsuya Watari, Chieko Matsubara, Tsuyoshi Yoshida Japan 1966, DCP, b/w & color, 82 min.
Japanese with English subtitles Tasked with making a vehicle for actor/singer Tetsuya Watari to croon the title song, Suzuki concocted this crazy yarn about a reformed yakuza on the run from his former comrades.