Sunday, 2 December 2012
Youth of the Beast 
Shohei Imamura and Nagisa Oshima were arguably the most famous Japanese New Wave names, but the movement didn’t have a dearth of maverick filmmakers with voices of their own – Seijun Suzuki was one of them, and Youth of the Beast was the movie that served as the turning point in his journey as an auteur. Hitherto a maker of run-of-the-mill gangster films, Suzuki stamped his distinct signature and vision into a film for the first time in this gleefully wacky, delirious, stylized, hyper-kinetic, testosterone-driven, incredibly fun rehashing of the standard gangster film, and reminiscent of Yojimbo. Jo (Jo Shishoda), a mysterious, laconic, baby-faced, chipmunk-cheeked tough guy who beats the crap out of everybody without batting an eyelid, comes out of nowhere and becomes the top henchman for a powerful yakuza gang. Before long he makes contact with the rival gang surreptitiously, and becomes an informer for them. Jo, it seems, is a man utterly devoid of morals and scruples even for a gangster, and that he has only one boss, viz. money. But, things aren’t always what they seem, and the same is the case with him – as is gradually revealed, he has a different agenda altogether, and vengeance for the death of a friend, is his sole motive. Suzuki filled the film with a host of colourful characters, thumping action sequences, and a terrific dose of cool, machismo, wry humour, violence and vibrancy, making it an immensely enjoyable ride through the seedy underbelly of post-WWII Japanese society. The excellent, deliberately discordant jazz score, and the incessant sense of narrative urgency, brilliantly complemented the film’s loopy, anachronistic, burlesque tone.
Director: Seijun Suzuki
Genre: Crime Thriller/Gangster Film