Branded to Kill

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Branded to Kill (Koroshi no rakuin) is a full-length Japanese movie that was released in 1967. It is considered to be classified as a Japanese gangster movie. It was directed by Seijun Suzuki. Shortly after Branded to Kill was released, the Nikkatsu Company fired Suzuki, claiming that he made movies that did not make a profit and “make no sense”. Other filmmakers, and fans who loves his other forty movies, protested and convinced Suzuki to sue the company for wrongful termination. He did so and won. Unfortunately, Suzuki did not direct another move for almost ten years.


The movie starts with Goro Hanada. Hanada is the ranked the third best hit man in Japan. He and his wife are picked up at the airport by a taxi driver named Kasuga. Kasuga used to be a hit man and longs to get back into the game. He begs Hanada to help him become a hit man again, and says that he even has a meeting lined up with one of Japan’s biggest underworld bosses: Yabuhara. Yabuhara agrees to hire the two men and gives them the mission of picking up a client to escort them from the airport. While talking in the car on the way to pick up their client, Hanada realizes that Kasuga is an alcoholic. Unfortunately there is no time to change plans so he realizes that he will have to make do. Shortly before they reach their target area, Hanada smells an ambush. He manages to sober up Kasuga a bit and tells him to watch the client while he tries to clear the way.

Kasuga goes a bit crazy and panics, attacking the fourth-ranked hit man named Koh. The two men kill each other. Another ambush occurs and Hanada is able to dispatch those villains as well. His car dies right before he reaches his home. A strange woman named Misako drives up and offers him a ride. He agrees and seems intrigued by the strange woman.

Hanada is then told by Yabuhara that he must kill four men. Three are custom officers and one is a jewelry dealers. Before he can attempt to kill those men, though, Misako shows up and offers him a very sweet deal. He will receive a large sum of money to kill a foreigner, and Hanada can not refuse. Right before he manages to shoot the target, a butterfly lands on the barrel of his rifle. The disturbance causes him to shoot and kill an innocent person that was standing near the target. Misako remands Hanada, telling him that he will be killed for his mistake.

Back at home, Hanada’s wife suddenly tries to kill him and sets their apartment on fire. He goes with Misako to her apartment and does everything he can to get her into bed. She eventually agrees to sleep with him, but only if he agrees to kill her after they are done. Hanada agrees, but find he can not complete the task because he has fallen in love with the strange woman. Hanada then realizes that he has to seek revenge for all that has occurred between his wife and Yabuhara.

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