|Jerry Fujio (l), Jo Shishido (c) and Chitose Kobayashi (r)|
Directed by Takashi Nomura
© 1967 Nikkatsu Corporation
Black and White 35 mm, 84 min.
This Friday, September 28, 2007, at 7:30 pm, Japan Society is providing New Yorkers with an opportunity to see this terrific, exciting actioner. It's the lead-off film in the NO BORDERS, NOLIMITS: 1960s Nikkatsu Action Cinema series. I was fortunate in being able to see it at a press screening last week, and I'm looking forward to seeing it again on Friday.
Jo Shishido, seen later the same year in the better known Branded To Kill by Seijun Suzuki, here plays an assassin hired by one Yakuza group to kill the oyabun (leader) of a rival group. After pulling off the hit, he and his partner (played by Jerry Fujio) find their initial escape plan thwarted at the airport. They then hide out in a cheap inn in Yokohama, hoping to escape by boat. They are befriended by a young woman who works there (actress Chirose Kobayashi) and who also longs to escape.
An unexpected - and highly unlikely - rapprochement between the two Yakuza gangs, leads to betrayal by those who ordered the hit. Now Jo and his partner find themselves targeted by everyone involved.
The ending, a face-off between Shishido's character and the gang members, some in a bullet-proof Mercedes, takes place on a barren expanse of reclaimed land. It's so over the top, so delectably implausible, that you just have to love it.
A Colt Is My Passport gets a 3 out of 4 star ACF rating, solidly recommeded.
NO BORDERS, NO LIMITS is the inaugural series of a new, annual event at Japan Society called "Monthly Classics." Mark Shilling, author (The Yakuza Movie Book: A Guide to Japanese Gangster Films) and critic, is the guest curator for this series. An earlier version of NB,NL was first presented at the 2005 Udine Far East Film Festival. Mr Shilling will be at Japan Society to introduce the film on Friday, and will be present afterward for a reception and signing of his accompanying book, No Borders, No Limits: Nikkatsu Action Cinema, newly edited and published by FAB Press.
- Shishido had plastic surgery, reportedly in 1956, that gave him his trademark "chipmunk cheeks." I'm pretty sure he also had eye surgery to give him more Occidental-looking eyelids.
- The initial target's car is a 1960 Dodge Dart, the top-of-the-line Phoenix model, I believe. My family had the mid-level Pioneer version, complete with push-button automatic transmission!)