This 1967 Japanese gangster film is so over the top that it redefines the words 'over the top.'
The anti hero, Japan's third ranked contract killer, has a fetish for the scent of boiling rice. In fact, it gives him a chubby. Yes, you read that right, the aroma of boiling rice takes our anti hero to the bone zone. But that's not the most over the top thing about him.
What sets our anti hero apart from the rest is his cheeks. He was either going through some serious dental work while filming this picture or he had implants put in there. Or perhaps he's got rice balls stuffed in his mouth and maybe this is where Marlon Brando got the idea to stuff his cheeks for The Godfather. But whatever it is, it's highly distracting.
"Distracting from what?," you might ask. Well as best I can describe it, here's what happens in this film:
- our anti hero decides to help out a former ranked killer who has gotten fired. They are to pick up a guy from point A and deliver him safely to point B. Assured that nothing could go wrong they jump in. Then everything goes wrong and the former killer gets killed, along with a bunch of other guys.
- our anti hero has wildly athletic sex with his comely young wife in their fabulous mid century modern furnished apartment. Then they decide to kill one another and they spend a good bit of the movie either sniffing boiling rice, having sexy sex, or trying to shoot, stab, or burn one another.
- our anti hero meets a mopey gangster gal who hires him to kill a foreigner, who looks Japanese. He fails and she says because he failed she must kill him but she wants to be killed too because she thinks she just a walking corpse. Of course they get naked at times, he sniffs boiling rice, they have sex, and then they try to kill one another.
- Pretty soon the film just devolves into a bunch of scenes where the anti hero with the chipmunk cheeks does crazy shit, cries, has break downs, wants sex, sniffs rice, and does other crazy looking shit.
- Then near the end they try to slap some semblance of a plot on the screen and they have chipmunk cheeks have a showdown with the number one ranked contract killer in Japan. They face off, have a bunch of weird bonding scenes, then they kill one another.
Yeah, it's as fucked up as it sounds but one thing is for sure, it's all visually striking and pretty fucking cool. The fact that it's shot in black and white makes it even better because color would have been distracting, it would have taken away from the essential craziness of the film. The women are super sexy, especially chipmunk cheek's wife, most of the other gangsters aside from chipmunk cheeks are cool as heck, and the interiors are chock full of cool mid century modern stuff.
As crazy over the top and disjointed as this film is, I still highly recommend it. It's a perfect example of Japanese excess storytelling and film making. They took what was thought of as a uniquely American genre and they put their crazy stamp on it. I loved this film.