Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Michitaro Mizushima, Mari Shiraki, Shinsuke Ashida, Toru Abe, Hideaki Nitani
Director: Seijun Suzuki
Genres: Action & Adventure, Art House & International, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Must-see 50s film noir
David Group | Buffalo, NY | 03/05/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Were it not for the fact that almost the entire cast is Japanese, I would have thought I was watching a lost Sam Fuller classic. This seedy gangster film has top-notch writing, directing, and acting. The print of the film is exceptionally clear, emphasizing the superb lighting of this black-and-white drama. The story of a diamond thief who attempts to make amends to a crippled partner in crime unfolds in classic noir fashion, and there is a refreshingly offbeat take on the femme fatale role. The only flaws are a couple brief inappropriate musical passages and one or two moving shots that exhibit a little shakiness. Highly recommended for film buffs."
Yakuza-noir from a Japanese master
Zack Davisson | Seattle, WA, USA | 05/19/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Seijun Suzuki's reputation is for weirdness, like the rice-sniffing killer of "Branded to Kill," mixed into violent Yakuza thrillers. His directorial style was shaped over a long career, and his influence on modern film directors such as Quentin Tarentino is vast. "Underworld Beauty" ("Ankokugai no Bijo") is a much-earlier film, his seventh to be precise, and, while a more straight-forward film than his surreal style to come, still shines with a spark of something different.
The plot is pure noir goodness, a complicated stewpot of intrigues. Two gangsters comit a daring diamond robbery. One, Mihara, is permanently maimed, one, Miyamoto, goes to jail. Fresh from jail, the Miyamoto wants to donate his share of the diamonds to Mihara, so he can retire peacefully. Their former gang boss, Oyane, thinks that is a pretty bad idea and wants the diamonds for himself. Mihara swallows the diamonds before being killed, and goes to the morgue with a belly full of treasure. Enter his sister Akiko, the titular underworld beauty. Her corrupt artist boyfriend cuts the diamonds from her brother's body, and then attempts a sale to Oyane. Miyamoto intervenes to protect both Akiko and restore the diamonds to her.
The diamonds, of course, are a classic McGuffin, leading the dangerous characters into conflict. Miyamoto is a hard-boiled anti-hero, tough as nails and a cool head in any situation. Akiko is gorgeous, both wild and innocent she is one minute frustrating and the next endearing. The actors for these lead characters are excellent, giving solid performances. Suzuki sets the climax in a sculptor's studio, allowing for body parts and mannequins to obfuscate the action as bullets go flying. (Bullets spat from the single most unrealistic machine gun I have ever seen!)
Suzuki is one of the true masters of Japanese film, and it is great to see his able hand doing something as unusually straight-forward. While not a great film, not up to the standards of "The Maltese Falcon" or "Touch of Evil," "Underworld Beauty" is still a fun flick for noir fans and Japanese film fans alike."
Seijun Suzuki's Underworld Beauty is one of his best
Tosh Berman | 02/07/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I think this film by Seijun Suzuki is up there with his brilliant 'Branded to Kill' and 'Tokyo Drifter.' What grabs me about this particular film is not its standard 'Yakuza/crime' narrative, but it's visual concept of Tokyo 1950's nightclubs and sexuality.The film is worth purchasing just for seeing the artist/Gangster reading an English (French) novel at a Yakuza meeting.Plus extra star for the soundtrack which is wonderful."
Seijun Suzuki's Japanese Film-Noir: A Classic!
Ernest Jagger | Culver City, California | 12/16/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This black-and-white classic filmed in 1958 by Seijun Suzuki is highly recommended. If you like American-style film-noir, take a look at this impressive Japanese-noir by Suzuki. It has all the elements there which make this film a classic in its genre: especially the femme fetale. The film centers on two gangsters [Yakuza] who commit a diamond heist. The gangster Mihara is maimed, while Miyamoto his partner goes to prison. When Miyamoto wishes to give his share to the maimed Mihara, the crime boss, Oyane does not like the idea one bit, and wants the diamonds for himself.
Meanwhile, Mihara swallows the diamonds before he is killed. While Mihara's body lays at the morgue, his sister Akiko and her not-so-nice boyfriend cut's out the diamonds from Mihara's lifeless body. Moreover, her boyfriend attempts to sell them to the crime-boss. In the meantime, Miyamoto tries to get the diamonds back, and into Akiko's hands. Although this is not a great film, it is a wonderful treat to see this Japanese film-noir, and is a fun watch for the genre: Especially when you see the Tokyo nightclubs and sexuality the film explores. The writing, directing and acting are also superb. Recommended for those who like film-noir."