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Branded to Kill Comparison (Criterion vs. Second Sight) 
Written by: on February 6th, 2005

Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1967
Director: Seijun Suzuki
Writers: Hachiro Guryu, Takeo Kimura, Chusei Sone, Atsushi Yamatoya
Cast: Jo Shishido, Koji Nambara, Annu Mari, Mariko Ogawa, Isao Tamagawa

DVD released: 1999 2002
Approximate running time: 91 91
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: NR 18
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Japanese with English with subtitles Dolby Digital Mono Japanese with English with subtitles
DVD Release: Criterion Second Sight
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC Region 2 PAL
Retail Price: $29.95 £19.99
Criterion’s Region 1 DVD
Second Sight’s Region 2 DVD
 

The Film :

Joe Shishido plays Hanada “No. 3”, the third-best hit man employed by a mob boss. Hanada agrees to help an old friend, Kasuga (Hiroshi Minami) by taking on a bodyguard job with him for Boss Yabuhara (Isao Tamagawa). They are ambushed while on their way to house in the country, alcoholic Kasuga loses his cool and is fatale wounded. Hanada after making his way through a gauntlet of killers, killing both Ko “No. 4” and Sakura “No. 2”. Having eliminated Sakura, Hanada moves up in rank to “No. 2” and he is assigned to kill four clever assassins.

After the job he meets Misako (Mari Annu) a man-hating woman as he hitches a ride. She hires him to kill a foreign man and when a butterfly lands on his rifle he is distracted he misses his target. He kills an innocent woman ruining his reputation and the yakuza have marked him for death. His crazy wife (Mariko Ogawa) turns on him and with no where to hide he goes to Misako for help. Hanada feeling trapped at Misako’s place returns to his home to kill wife. The Yakuza have kidnapped Misako while Hanada was out and Hanada finds himself the prey of phantom #1 killer (Koji Nambara).

Video:

Both releases present Branded to kill in an aspect ratio of about 2.35:1 and they both exhibit strong black levels through out. The image on the Criterion release looks slightly sharper then the image on the Second Sight release which is anamorphic. Framing wise the Second Sight release offers slightly more picture then the Criterion release.

Audio:

Both releases present Branded to kill in its original Japanese language track with subtitles that are easy to follow and understand. The Second Sight release offers a fuller sound and it is cleaner then the Criterion audio mix. The Criterion release has some minor hiss that is present through out still nothing that ever becomes to distracting.

Extras:

Extras on the Criterion release include a fourteen-minute interview with director Seijun Suzuki as he discusses his movies and Japanese cinema in general. Other Extras include a motion gallery of posters for film star Joe Shishido’s movies. Rounding out the extras is informative liner notes written by John Zorn. Second Sights release comes with no extras.

Overall:

Both releases are very good. The Criterion’s release has a sharper image and it comes with a couple extras making it the more enticing of the two releases.

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