Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jo Shishido, Reiko Sassamori, Naomi Hoshi, Tamio Kawaji, Yuko Kusunoki, Kotoe Hatsui, Nobuo Kaneko, Kinzo Shin, Asao Sano, Hiroshi Hijikata
Written by: Gan Yamazaki, based on a novel by Haruhiko Oyabu
Directed by: Seijun Suzuki
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: Japanese, with English subtitles
Running Time: 88
Date: 01/27/1963

Detective Bureau 2-3: Go to Hell Bastards (1963)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Man Inside

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The black sheep Japanese director Seijun Suzuki more or less established his reputation when he made the lowdown, fast-paced, second-gear crime movie Detective Bureau 2-3: Go to Hell Bastards. Irreverent and reckless, it practically sneers at the cinema elite. It's a pretty typical "undercover" movie, in which a stylish private detective Tajima (Jo Shishido) pretends to befriend a gang lord in order to infiltrate the rest of the gang and find a cache of stolen weapons. The gangsters spend a good deal of time checking on Tajima's cover stories -- reluctantly set up by the cops -- and when they're not doing that, they spend a lot of time at clubs watching dancing girls. Then, for a conclusion, we get a showdown and a ticking timer death trap. Suzuki sets up lots of flashy visuals and moments of humor, but they flit by very quickly; he never shows off for its own sake. Star Shishido is the epitome of cocky, taking more care of his appearance and perfectly coifed hair than in exercising caution. But he pulls it off; he's a prime source of the movie's subtle humor. The movie is still fun today, but it definitely has lost some of its original bite. Kino released the DVD in 2009, letterboxed (2.35:1) and anamoprhic, with new English subtitles, but no extras. [See also 3 Seconds Before Explosion (1967).]

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