×

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

  • For Lineup Story

    Billie Piper's Directorial Debut, 'Rare Beasts,' to Bow in Venice Critics' Week

    “Rare Beasts,” the directorial debut of British stage and screen actress Billie Piper (“Doctor Who,” “Penny Dreadful,” “Collateral”) is set to premiere at the Venice Film Festival’s Critics’ Week, which has unveiled its lineup of nine first works, four of them from female filmmakers. Produced by Vaughan Sivell of Western Edge Pictures in association with [...]

  • 'Mientras dure la guerra' -Rodaje Modmedia-

    Alejandro Amenabar, Ricardo Darin, Paco Cabezas Bound for San Sebastian

    MADRID  –  Alejandro Amenábar, Ricardo Darín and Paco Cabezas, director of episodes from “Peaky Blinders” and “American Gods,” look set to join Penelope Cruz, already confirmed as a Donostia Award winner, at this year’s 67th San Sebastian Intl. Film Festival. The biggest movie event in the Spanish-speaking world, this year’s San Sebastian runs Sept.20-28. Amenábar’s [...]

  • Pinewood Studios James Bond

    Netflix's Shepperton Studios Deal Is Stretching the U.K.'s Production Limits

    Netflix’s huge new hub at Shepperton Studios outside London is a further fillip for Britain’s booming production sector. Amid jitters over Brexit and its effects on the economy, the streaming giant’s commitment is a vote of confidence in the U.K. entertainment industry and a continuing source of local jobs. But the decision by Netflix to [...]

  • Bottom of the 9th

    Film Review: ‘Bottom of the 9th’

    Nearly two decades after scoring an audience award at Sundance for “Two Family House,” a smartly understated yet deeply affecting indie about a Staten Island factory worker who deeply regrets stifling his showbiz ambitions, director Raymond De Felitta steps back up to the plate with “Bottom of the 9th,” another dramatically solid and emotionally satisfying [...]

  • Endemol Shine Builds ‘The Bridge’ in

    Endemol Shine Builds ‘The Bridge’ in Africa (EXCLUSIVE)

    DURBAN–Endemol Shine Group has sold the rights to adapt its critically acclaimed and highly popular Nordic Noir detective series “The Bridge” to Cape Town-based production company Both Worlds Pictures, Variety has learned exclusively. The series will feature an all-African cast and will be set around the Beit Bridge border crossing between South Africa and Zimbabwe. Originally known [...]

  • Durban Film Fest 2019

    Durban Fest Hails Film as ‘Conscience of Our Nation’

    DURBAN–When Ros and Teddy Sarkin raised the curtain on the first Durban Intl. Film Festival 40 years ago, the odds were long that their scrappy fest would survive its inaugural edition. The apartheid government and its draconian censorship board had a stranglehold on the films that reached South African theaters, banning the sorts of subversive [...]

  • Tiny: The Life of Erin Blackwell

    Film Review: 'Tiny: The Life of Erin Blackwell'

    “Streetwise,”  the classic and haunting 1984 documentary about homeless street kids in Seattle, is a movie that’s now 35 years old. But for anyone who has seen it, the children it’s about — drifters, hustlers, squatters, thieves, prostitutes — remain frozen in time. And none of them was ever more memorable than Tiny, the 14-year-old [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content