Seijun Suzuki Rules!

Region 1 is blooming with three little known but sharp looking classics due for release tomorrow (January 20), all directed by Seijun Suzuki. Retail is $19.95 for these disks from Home Vision Entertainment, which has proven to be a reliable and quality source for similar titles in the recent past.

Kanto Wanderer

KANTO WANDERER (1958)
Apparently a yakuza tale involving gambling. Of the three, this is the only one I haven’t seen yet. Two users of the Internet Movie Database contributed their impressions; chances are good that Suzuki fans will want to check it out.

I saw the next two films one after another during the “Japanese Outlaw Masters” series of films presented by the American Cinematheque a few months ago. Here are excerpts from my reviews.

Tattooed Life

TATTOOED LIFE (1965)
“In 1965, we come to a period in which Seijun Suzuki was experiencing frustration with the studio system. In the following two years he would direct TOKYO DRIFTER and BRANDED TO KILL, his two signature classics that also resulted in the termination of his studio career.

“But before that happened, in the year after he made GATES OF FLESH, he made TATTOOED LIFE. It’s a very different film than UNDERWORLD BEAUTY, though it’s also about criminals.” Read more…

Underworld Beauty

UNDERWORLD BEAUTY (1958)
“Dating from 1958, UNDERWORLD BEAUTY creates a hypnotic criminal world that is timeless. The American Cinematheque presented a new 35mm print at the Egyptian Theatre, highlighting the beautiful black and white photography that was shot in wide screen (2:35 to 1 or similar).

“Michitaro Mizushima plays the lead role, a man released from prison as the picture begins. . . . In this den of thieves, he’s the most honorable — if not exactly the heroic type.” Read more…

Of the two, I would favor TATTOOED LIFE for a rental but UNDERWORLD BEAUTY for a purchase, because the latter title would seem to have more “replayability.” Both are recommended.

Box Office Results: By arrangement with Sony Pictures, distributor IDP opened TOKYO GODFATHERS in eight theaters over the weekend, grossing $30,000 for a per-screen average of $3,750. As a limited engagement, and taking into account very cold weather in New York and the holiday weekend in the US, that’s not *horrible*.

Tokyo Godfathers

In addition to New York and Los Angeles, it is playing four other California cities (Irvine, Berkeley, San Diego, and San Francisco), plus St. Louis, Missouri. It will open in a few more cities (Austin, Texas; Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; Chicago, and Seattle) next Friday January 23. In February it will play in Washington, DC, Denver, Minneapolis, Atlanta, and Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Details available at the Sony Pictures web site.)

The film is the third from Satoshi Kon, the director of PERFECT BLUE and MILLENIUM ACTRESS, two terrific (and quite different) pictures. It’s said to be an anime version of THE THREE GODFATHERS, a Western that starred John Wayne, and I can’t wait to see it. In Los Angeles, it’s playing at the Nuart Theatre on the west side of town.

Site Note: Ever since I began this site, its subtitle has been: “Hong Kong Movies Coming Soon to DVD.” At that time (August 2000), the only other site that tried to list upcoming Hong Kong titles was the precursor to Asian DVD Guide.

For quite a long time now, though, Asian DVD Guide has been *the* resource for films released on DVD from Hong Kong distributors, with more specifications and cover art than I can provide, and so I have decided to retire that aspect of this site. Instead, every Monday I’ll concentrate on posting information about Hong Kong and other Asian films scheduled for release on DVD in Region 1, as well as box office results for any titles of interest. And, every Thursday I’ll post new reviews or highlight Asian films playing at major film festivals.

As always, thank you for visiting.

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