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Pistol Opera (2002)

Cast: Makiko Esumi, Makiko Esumi, Sayoko Yamaguchi, more...
Director: Seijun Suzuki, Seijun Suzuki
    see all cast/crew...
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Tokyo Shock
Genre: Foreign, Japan, Yakuza
Running Time: 112 min.
Languages: Japanese
Subtitles: English
    see additional details...

Japanese cult director Seijun Suzuki's combination sequel to and remake of his 1967 gangster film classic Branded To Kill stars Makiko Esumi as Miyuki Minazuki, AKA "the Stray Cat," a beautiful female assassin. She is number three in the hierarchy of killers in her criminal organization at the beginning of the film, but soon a battle breaks out among the assassins, all of whom are trying to become the number one killer by murdering their competition. Miyuki finds herself fighting her fellow assassins one by one, encountering along the way such eccentrically-nicknamed opponents as The Teacher, who is confined to a wheelchair, Painless Surgeon, a bearded Westerner who literally feels no pain, and Dark Horse (Masatoshi Nagase), who wears a blond wig and has a perpetual case of the sniffles. Also making an appearance is Goro Hanada, the hero of Branded To Kill (played in the original by Jo Shishido, but here by Mikijiro Hira), who becomes a mentor to Miyuki, and is now known as number zero. The film's skeletal plot mostly allows director Suzuki to develop elaborate visual tableaus that stretch the possibilities of narrative cinema. ~ Tom Vick, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Very weird but enjoyable by ColonelKong August 20, 2003 - 8:15 PM PDT
6 out of 7 members found this review helpful
Even though there's a lot about this movie that a second viewing failed to clear up, I enjoyed watching it a lot. It's sort of an improvisational jazz riff on the "professional killer betrayed by the syndicate" movie, somewhat like Tokyo Drifter and Branded to Kill (the only other two Seijun Suzuki films out in Region 1 right now, unfortunately). I liked the music a lot (I think it's first Japanese film I've ever seen with a Ska theme song), and also the set design by Suzuki's regular designer Takeo Kimura which reminded me a bit of Eiko Ishioka's highly theatrical sets for Paul Schrader's Mishima.

If you're looking for a standard plot, watching Pistol Opera will probably be a rather frustrating experience. There are some real non-sequitor scenes that pop up during the course of the film, and what was with the Butoh dancers? This is probably one of those films that you have to apply a little bit of dream logic to.

Even though I didn't quite "get" it, I still had a lot of fun watching Pistol Opera.

PS, be warned that one scene has the loudest telephone since The Exorcist. I had my tv turned up all the way and it nearly gave me a heart attack!

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 5.65)
147 Votes
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