Branded to Kill (Blu-ray)(The Criterion Collection, 12.13.2011)
A film doesn’t have to make complete sense to be engrossing. Visual style and a striking central performance carry Seijun Suzuki’s Branded to Kill despite the director’s pronounced indifference to clarity. Hanada (Joe Shishido) is Japan’s third-ranked hit man and not a bit happy about it. (Suzuki never explains who compiles such rankings.) In fact, he doesn't even believe that the number-one assassin exists. The film follows Hanada through several hits, leading to the inevitable showdown with his nemesis (Koji Nanbara). Along the way, he indulges in S&M with his wife (Mariko Ogawa) and meets a strange, mysterious young woman (Annu Mari).