Smashing the O-Line

83 minutes 1960

This 1960 actioner from Japan's Nikkatsu studio shows veteran contract director Seijun Suzuki at his most resourceful, livening up a listless script (about rival newspaper editors trying to take down a human-trafficking ring) with blasts of New Wave cool. For Suzuki, story is movement, and there's more drama in the dynamic compositions, propulsive camera work, and startling smash cuts than in the contrived narrative. Frustrated with material like this, the director would embark on a series of movies in the mid-60s (Gate of Flesh, Tokyo Drifter, Branded to Kill) whose surreal visuals and more taboo material ultimately got him fired from the studio, even as they cemented his reputation among film buffs. In Japanese with subtitles.

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