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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 2.35:1 Widescreen
  • Japanese Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • A rare interview with director Seijun Suzuki

Tokyo Drifter

1999 Edition
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Seijun Suzuki
Starring: Tetsuya Watari, Chieko Matsbara, Hideaki Nitani, Tamio Kawachi, Tsuyoshi Yoshida, Ryuji Kita
1966 | 83 Minutes | Licensor: Nikkatsu Co.

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $29.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #39 | Out of print
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: February 23, 1999
Review Date: December 22, 2011

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SYNOPSIS

In this free-jazz gangster film, reformed killer "Phoenix" Tetsu drifts around Japan, awaiting his own execution until he's called back to Tokyo to help battle a rival gang. Seijun Suzuki's "barrage of aestheticised violence, visual gags, [and] mind-warping color effects" got him in more trouble with Nikkatsu studio heads, who had ordered him to "play it straight this time." Instead he gave them equal parts Russ Meyer, Samuel Fuller, and Nagisa Oshima. Criterion presents the DVD premiere of Tokyo Drifter in a lush color transfer from the original, glorious Nikkatsu-scope master.

Forum members rate this film 7.4/10

 

Discuss the film and DVD here   


PICTURE

Itís hard to imagine that Criterion has done a worse transfer than what we get for their original 1999 DVD edition of Seijun Suzukiís Tokyo Drifter (sadly they have.) Presented in the aspect ratio of about 2.35:1 on a single-layer disc the non-anamorphic picture we get truly is ghastly. Itís laced with artifacts of all sorts, from obvious compression noise to pixilation, ringing to halos, shimmering to moirť effects, and jagged edges galore. Moire effects are especially problematic thanks to the tight patterns that are found throughout, and the opening black and white sequence is also laced with them.

Colours are weak, which is a shame considering how colourful the film is, and bleeding can be a common nuisance. But the most annoying aspect is the fact the aspect ratio is off, squishing the image in from the left and right, creating an effect where everyone comes off squished and skinny. The only good thing I can say is that the print is in decent if not spectacular condition.

But everything leads to one of the worst transfers in the collection, and one that was long overdue for a correction (which Criterion has thankfully done with their new DVD and Blu-ray editions.)

2/10

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AUDIO

The Dolby Digital 1.0 mono track is a mess, limited in part by the source materials admittedly. Dialogue and music are heavily distorted and edgy, and the track overall is low with no range. But it doesnít sound like any restoration has gone into it making it sound flat and very unnatural.

3/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Only one supplement is included here, a 20-minute interview with Seijun Suzuki taken in 1997 during a retrospective of his work. Here Suzuki talks specifically about his work at Nikkatsu and the politics there at the time. He goes over how he was able to get out of directing bad scripts, talks about their tight shooting schedules, the limited budgets, and the hoops he had to jump through to get films made there. He talks a little about the production of Tokyo Drifter and some of his other films, and goes over the filmís original ending. Though itís ultimately short it offers a great overview of the directorís work at Nikkatsu.

The disc then comes with a short essay by Manohla Dargis found in the insert. And thatís unfortunately it. The interview is great but I would have loved more analysis on the film. (Unfortunately the newer DVD and Blu-ray editions donít really improve upon this aspect of the release.)

3/10

CLOSING

Just terrible.


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