My Dream is to Die: Why You Should Watch ‘Branded to Kill’

"A killer mustn't be human. He must be tough and cool."
Branded To Kill Butterflies

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that explores the unconventional Yakuza classic Branded to Kill.

Theoretically, if you were compiling a list of the coolest movies ever made, you’d have (have!) to include Branded to Kill.

Released in 1967 and directed by Nikkatsu Company mainstay Seijun SuzukiBranded to Kill is the dictionary definition of the Japanese New Wave: an experimental, surreal, pop-art neo-noir that cemented Suzuki’s status as an artistic bad boy.

Jô Shishido is Gorô Hanada (a.k.a. Number 3), an assassin with a fetish for steamed rice (no, really) who finds himself on the wrong end of a crime syndicate when the hitman goofs his latest assignment. Knowing the yakuza don’t take kindly to mistakes, Number 3 finds himself in a fight for his life — and the new death-obsessed femme fatale (Annu Mari) in his life isn’t helping!

A commercial pratfall in its time, Branded to Kill remained inaccessible for many years thanks in part to the studio’s boneheaded decision to wrongfully terminate Suzuki (ostensibly for the film’s lack of success). While the whole kerfuffle resulted in the director’s blacklisting until the late 1970s, the affair also turned Suzuki into a local cinematic legend long before he achieved cult status in the West.

It’s a gem that stands on its own two feet while also rewarding fans of cinema history. So without further ado, here’s an impassioned plea for why you should seek out this oddball yakuza gem:

Watch “Branded To Kill – The Unconventional Yakuza Classic”

Who made this?

This video essay on the unconventional Yakuza classic Branded to Kill is by You Have Been Watching Films. United Kingdom-based writer Oliver Bagshaw produces the channel, creating video essays on an assortment of movies, from cult to classic strains of cinema history. You can subscribe to their YouTube channel here.

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Meg Shields: Based in the Pacific North West, Meg enjoys long scrambles on cliff faces and cozying up with a good piece of 1960s eurotrash. As a senior contributor at FSR, Meg's objective is to spread the good word about the best of sleaze, genre, and practical effects.