Written by: Michael Den Boer on June 19th, 2004
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1965
Director: Seijun Suzuki
Writers: Kei Hattori, Kinya Naoi
Cast: Hideki Takahashi, Akira Yamauchi, Hiroko Ito
DVD Released: January 20th, 2004
Approximate Running Time: 90 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Japanese
DVD Release: Home vision
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
“I want to capture your beauty in ways nobody could imagine.”
Synopsis: Tattooed Life takes place in the first year of the Showa era. Testu “the white fox” (Hideki Takahashi), is a yakuza hit man who is betrayed by his gang. Tetsu’s younger brother Kenji (Kotobuki Haranomoto), an aspiring artist saves his brothers life and kills the assassin. Fearing the law and being hunted by the gangsters, the brothers decide to escape to Manchuria. They find it difficult crossing into Manchuria when a swindler takes their money,
They take on jobs as laborers on a tunnel project, where they can work anonymously in the remote Japanese countryside. Kenji falls in loves with the boss’s wife and his obsession with her becomes dangerous when his nude drawings of her are found. Mrs. Yamashita’s younger sister Midori pursues Tetsu. The companies’ accountant decides to blackmail the drifters because of his lust for Midori. The accountant has been hired by a rival outfit aligned with Tetsu’s old Yakuza clans to sabotage the tunnel.
After Tetsu’s identity is revealed and his brother is murdered by his former gang leads to final climatic battle. Looking for his enemies Testu runs through paper doors as red light moves across the frame and the sky turns the color of blood the artificial look of the final scene is Seijun Suzuki at his best. The bizarre shot (pictured on the cover) that depicts a face-off with an up angle that replaces the wooden floor with one of glass is obviously referenced in Kill Bill’s House of Blues scene. Tattooed Life is filled rich dialog and strong storytelling that is enhanced by Suzuki’s use of colors and hallucinatory images. Seijun Suzuki’s last “straight” yakuza film made before the abstract Tokyo Drifter and the stylized genre masterwork Branded to Kill.
Tattooed Life is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The enhanced picture is unblemished and the transfer’s greatest asset is its dazzling color. It is hard to believe how good of all of Home Visions Seijun Suzuki’s DVD’s look considering their age.
The original Japanese mono soundtrack is crisp and clear without distracting hiss or other flaws. The optional English subtitles are easy to read and follow.
Included are the films original trailer, Seijun Suzuki’s filmography, and informative liner notes written by Ray Pride. What this DVD lacks in extras it more then makes up for in its stunning A/V presentation. Tattooed Life is an impressive action tale that is accessible and engaging. I highly recommend you check out Tattooed life a lesser know gem from Seijun Suzuki.