×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Maverick Japanese Director Seijun Suzuki Dies at 93

TOKYO — Seijun Suzuki, a maverick director who was notoriously fired from the Nikkatsu studio for a film many consider his masterpiece, the 1967 actioner “Branded to Kill,” died in Tokyo on Feb. 13 at age 93. The cause was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

After failing to launch a directing career at Shochiku, Suzuki joined Nikkatsu in 1954, and made 40 films for the studio, mostly supporting pictures in double bills. With production designer Takeo Kimura and, beginning with 1963 film “The Bastard,” the two men together shaped the ‘Suzuki style,’ with its surreal visuals, Kabuki-esque staging, bold colors and action that seemed to be unfolding in a dreamscape.

Suzuki was fired after the flop of “Branded to Kill,” which starred Joe Shishido as a hitman who finds himself caught in a bizarre life-or-death struggle with a higher ranked rival. He won an out of court settlement, but was essentially banned from the industry for a decade.

In 1980 Suzuki began a comeback with “Zigeunerweisen,” a period ghost story that played at the Berlin Film Festival and was awarded four Japan Academy prizes. In 2001 he made “Pistol Opera,” a loose remake of “Branded.”

Among the directors influenced by his work were Wong Kar-wai and Quentin Tarantino. Jim Jarmusch featured references to “Branded” in “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai” (1999.)

Asked by a reporter if he wanted to work until his end, Suzuki once replied: “It’s better to die like an ordinary person.. dying on the job just causes problems for those around you.”

More Film

  • HAF Doubles Work-in-Progress Lineup With Documentary

    HAF Doubles Work-in-Progress Lineup With Documentary Category

    A new documentary component means that the work-in-progress section of this year’s Hong Kong – Asia Film Financing Forum will double from 10 to 20 projects. The selection includes Ruby Yang (“The Blood of Yingzhou District”) and Hou Hsiao-hsien (“The Assassin”) as documentary producers, and Brillante Mendoza (“Kinatay”) as producer on the fiction side. The [...]

  • 'Raging Bull' Editor Thelma Schoonmaker to

    Thelma Schoonmaker, Martin Scorsese's Longtime Editor, to Receive BAFTA Fellowship

    Three-time Oscar winner Thelma Schoonmaker, best-known for her editing work on Martin Scorsese movies such as “Raging Bull” and “Goodfellas,” will receive the British Academy of Film and Television Arts’ highest accolade, the BAFTA Fellowship, at the EE British Academy Film Awards on Feb. 10. The BAFTA Fellowship is given to an individual in recognition [...]

  • Singapore Actor Aloysius Pang, 28, Dies

    Singaporean Actor Aloysius Pang, 28, Dies While on Military Service

    Singaporean actor Aloysius Pang died Wednesday of injuries sustained while on military training in New Zealand. He was 28. Pang was best known for his appearance in movies “Young & Fabulous” and “Timeless Love.” He also had a string of credits in Singapore TV series. Pang was involved in an accident last week while repairing [...]

  • Alibaba Lends $100 Million to Huayi

    Alibaba Lends $100 Million to Huayi Bros. in Film Investment Expansion

    Alibaba Pictures Group, the film business arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, has struck a strategic cooperation deal with leading film studio Huayi Bros. The deal includes a $103 million (RMB700 million) loan to Huayi. Alibaba Pictures said the agreement was part of its recently announced strategy to be involved in major movies aimed for [...]

  • Netflix Buys Taiwan Black Comedy 'Dear

    Netflix Buys Taiwan Black Comedy 'Dear Ex'

    Netflix has added to its roster of Mandarin-language content with the acquisition of rights to Taiwanese dark comedy “Dear Ex.” The award-winning film will play out from Feb. 1. The story involves a recently bereaved widow and a gay man fighting over a dead man’s inheritance, with the woman’s teenage son caught in the middle. [...]

  • Audrey Wells

    Film News Roundup: Audrey Wells Scholarships Launched by UCLA, China's Pearl Studio

    In today’s film news roundup, Pearl Studio and UCLA start a “Say Yes!” scholarship in memory of Audrey Well; Gina Lollobrigida and Claudia Cardinale are honored; and the “General Magic” documentary gets bought. SCHOLARSHIPS UNVEILED China’s Pearl Studio has made a gift of $100,000 for endowed scholarships to the UCLA School of Theater, Film and [...]

  • Honey Boy Knock Down the House

    Sundance Hot Titles List: 13 Buzzy Films That Have Buyers Talking

    There’s a good reason that much of Hollywood braves the thin mountain air each year to make the trek to the Sundance Film Festival, and it’s not to check out the nearby ski slopes. The annual launch of the indie film gathering brings with it the possibility of discovering the next big thing in moviemaking. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content