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Toyko Drifter Comparison (Criterion vs. Second Sight) 
Written by: on February 6th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1966
Director: Seijun Suzuki
Writer: Yasunori Kawauchi
Cast: Tetsuya Watari, Chieko Matsubara, Hideaki Nitani, Ryuji Kita
Toyko Drifter
Toyko Drifter
DVD released: 1999 2002
Approximate running time: 83 minutes 82 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: NR 12
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 :

After Tetsu (Tetsuya Watari), is beaten up by rivals at the shipyards because he refuses to join Otsuka’s gang. Tetsu’s loyalty his father figure gang leader Kurata (Ryuji Kita), they want to want to break ties with the criminal element. Otsuka believes with Tetsu out of the picture will force Kurata to succumb to their authority. All of Kurata’s gang has abandoned him except Tetsu, because they refuse to work for someone who is leaving the business. After Going straight Kurata finds himself in debt the money lender backing Kurata in his new venture is Mr. Yoshi. Chiharu (Chieko Matsubara), is kidnapped from the lounge where she sings at by Otsuka’s gang. After Tetsu rescues Chiharu heads over to Kurata’s office to celebrate his new business venture. Otsuka’s men strong-arm Mr. Yoshi at gunpoint and he hands over the deed to Kurata’s building and they kill him after he signs the paper.

Otsuka, the now owner of the building, goes over to Kurata’s office to humiliate him, and force him to turn over his seal. Kurata refuses and a shoot-out with his rivals erupts as Tetsu arrives and saves Kurata. Tetsu is forced to leave Tokyo and the crime business until everything cools off. Tetsu leaves Tokyo without telling Chiharu and when he arrives up north he is arrested by a police detective on the train tracks. Tetsu with the aide of members of a South group friendly with Kurata escapes from police custody only to find him caught up in a power struggle between the South Group and the North Group. Otsuka schemes his way into forcing an alliance with Kurata and their first agenda is to rub out Tetsu. After a failed attempt on Tetsu he returns to Tokyo where Otsuka and Kurata have kidnapped Chiharu to use against him. In a final face off against Otsuki and his former mentor Kurata, can Tetsu stay one step ahead of his enemies?


Both release present Tokyo Drifter in an aspect ratio of about 2.35:1. Each release offers a slightly different colors and flesh tones. Surprisingly the Criterion release which is non-anamorphic exhibits more detail then the Second Sight release which is Anamorphic. Framing wise the Second Sight release offers slightly more picture then the Criterion release.


Both releases present Tokyo Drifter in its original Japanese language track with subtitles that are easy to follow and understand. Overall there really is not that much difference between the two releases audio mixes. The Second Sight release offers a fuller sound and the Criterion release is slightly cleaner then the Second Sight audio mix. There is some minor hiss and distortion present on both releases, still nothing that ever becomes to distracting.


Extras on the Criterion release include a seventeen minute interview with director Seijun Suzuki as he discusses his movies and influences. Rounding out the extras is informative liner notes written by John Zorn. Second Sights release comes with no extras.


Both releases have their pros & con’s with the edge going too the Criterion’s release that has the more pleasing image of the two. The Criterion release also comes with a few extras.

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