Tuesday, 22 January 2013

A Colt Is My Passport [1967]

Nikkatsu, one of Japan’s oldest movie studios, played a key role in the Japanese New Wave and Underground movements during the 50s and 60s. Takashi Nomura’s A Colt is My Passport was my first tryst with Mukukuseki Akushun (“borderless action") that the studio famously mass-produced during that era, and which have collectively come to be referred to as, courtesy Criterion, Nikkatsu Noir. A delightful mix of noir’s existentialism, and the cool and style of Spaghetti Westerns, this yakuza film had little to offer in terms of plot originality but a lot in terms of sheer visceral pleasure. Joe Shishido played the role of a laconic and highly skilled contract killer who, upon a big-ticket job where he assassinates the boss of a rival gang at the behest of a powerful and slimy gangster, is forced to go on the run. Giving him company is his loyal, guitar-strumming sidekick. While hiding in a run-down motel, he meets a pretty but lonely waitress who has wanted to escape her sordid life for a long time, which added a softer detour to the otherwise all-male world of gun-toting gangsters. Shishido, as in Youth of the Beast, overflowed with such swagger and machismo as to attain a larger than life aura about his daredevil character. Nomura infused strong homo-erotic elements between the protective lead and his protégé, which added interesting dimensions to the lady’s romantic overtures. The crisp B/W photography and the marvelous harmonica-based score added a melancholic touch to the film during its quieter moments, and, in turn, nicely complemented with the more gung-ho and testosterone fueled sequences.

Director: Takashi Nomura
Genre: Thriller/Crime Thriller/Gangster Film/Post-Noir
Language: Japanese
Country: Japan

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