Youth of the Beast | Chicago Reader

Youth of the Beast

91 minutes 1963

This explosive 1963 gangland saga established Japanese B-movie director Seijun Suzuki as an auteur with domestic film buffs but also set him on a collision course with his employers at the Nikkatsu studio, who considered his themes bizarre and his stories incoherent. Jo Shishido stars as a disgraced cop who infiltrates a yakuza gang, though the plot serves mainly as a landing strip for Suzuki's crazy ideas (at one point the hero uses a lighter and aerosol can to set an adversary's hair on fire) and surreal images (a hooker screaming for her fix sees her white-suited pusher float away like a little angel). Suzuki goes for pure excitement: a brassy, hyperactive jazz score drives the action, and the fights and beatings burst off the screen, scored with vicious sound effects. The overall mood is one of kinetic restlessness and perverse hallucination. In Japanese with subtitles.

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