Sunday, April 11, 2010
1967, 85 minutes, black & white, in Japanese with English Subtitles
The is part of the Nikkatsu Noir series made available by Criterion Films.
A Colt Is My Passport is the story of a hit-man and his partner who take a contract from a gang leader against his main rival. The contract is completed and the plan is for the two assassins, Shuji Kamimura and Shun Shiozaki, to immediately leave the country. Alliances change quickly in their world and Shuji and Shun soon find themselves on the run, their employer finding it more expedient to give them the the gang whose leader they assassinated to cement a new partnership.
The copy on the DVD case calls this film "One of Japanese cinema's supreme emulations of American noir." I agree with and and call one of the best noir films I've seen. Joe Shishido is perfect as the gloomy countenanced professional. In the U.S., Charles Bronson could have played the role.
The cinematography is outstanding. The cover copy says that it is "brimming with format experimentation" which is where my lack of knowledge about film making lets me down; I not sure what that means. What I did see was excellent framing of scenes, the placement of characters within a scene. There is a sequence where earlier scenes are repeated but with a key element removed which heightened the anticipation that something was about to happen.
There are some odd elements. The soundtrack is pure spaghetti western. If I had closed my eyes when the film started I would have thought a Sergio Leone movie was in the DVD player. In fact, the ending is reminiscent of the big showdown scenes in spaghetti western.
A Colt Is My Passport has excellent actors, a classic story line that I never tire of, and gorgeous photography. If you are a fan of noir films you should see this one. It is available through Netflix.