Branded to kill
|German title||Branded to kill|
|Original title||殺 し の 烙印 / Koroshi no rakuin|
|Country of production||Japan|
|Age rating||FSK 16|
Goro Hanada is considered the third best professional killer in Japan and lives in luxury with his nudist wife Mami. On a mission for the Yakuzaboss Yauhara he manages to turn the second-best and the fourth best professional killer. Hanada then received further orders from Yabuhara, which he initially carried out successfully. From Misako, a mysterious woman with a death wish who collects dead butterflies, Hanada finally receives the equally important and difficult assignment of shooting a foreigner. At the crucial moment, however, a butterfly sits on Hanada's weapon, causing the bullet to miss its target: the foreigner is only injured, but an innocent woman is killed. Because of his failure, Hanada loses his rank and is now on the hit list himself.
Hanada initially wants to flee Japan, but his own wife shoots him down and sets the apartment on fire. Hanada can only escape alive from the fire with difficulty. He then contacts Misako again, who is also charged with killing Hanada. Hanada can, however, seduce the death addict into sex with the promise that they will then be shot. Later, however, he does not see himself able to do so, since he has fallen in love with Misako, which is why he considers himself a bad professional killer. However, when Hanada meets his unfaithful wife again, he kills her despite her pleading to let her live. Before her death, his wife reveals to him the background of his assignments that he should carry out for Yabuhara. Hanada then waits for Yabuhara, but the gang boss is shot first.
The killer returns to Misako's apartment, where he sees on a film projector that Misako has been captured, tortured and apparently killed. The next day, Hanada is attacked by several professional killers at a breakwater , but can take them all off with his skills. Then the famous number one professional killer contacts him. Number One now announces to Hanada that they want to kill him soon, but initially drives him peacefully to Misako's apartment. There Hanada holed up with growing desperation in front of number one, who seeks to destroy him psychologically. Number One finally moves in with Hanada, they sign a temporary peace treaty and even sleep and eat together. He learns that Number One committed the murder of Yabuhara and that Misako is still alive. Hanada is still tense all the time. Later, number one escapes and announces that Hanada will meet for a final argument in a gym .
Number one initially does not appear for hours, which drives Hanada insane. Eventually, Number One shoots him, but Hanada's headband stops the bullet and he shoots back. Number one falls to the ground, but can shoot Hanada before his own death. Hanada runs crazy through the ring of the gym declaring himself the new number one . A lively Misako steps into the arena but is instinctively shot by Hanada.
Suzuki was given the task of shooting Branded to Kill just a few days before shooting began. Therefore, he developed many ideas only during the shooting and included the actors and the staff of the film in his respective plans. When it was released, Branded to Kill was a failure with the audience, whereupon Suzuki's film studio Nikkatsu , who had been critical of his increasingly surrealistic and eccentric film style, dismissed him without notice. Suzuki, who worked for the studio for around ten years and mostly delivered convincing work, sued with the help of student groups and befriended filmmakers. Suzuki won the lawsuit for damages, which attracted a lot of attention - however, he was put on a kind of blacklist and he could not make a film for the next ten years because all the major Japanese film studios refused to employ him.
In 2001, Suzuki shot the film Pisutoru opera, a kind of sequel in which an aged Goro Hanada appears as a minor character (this time not played by Shishido, but by Mikijirō Hira ). In this film, the former number one has withdrawn from the killer business and is honored as "number zero".
At Rotten Tomatoes , the film has a score of 100% based on 22 reviews, with an average score of 8.3 points. The film service wrote that Branded to Kill was a "dark nihilistic variant of Japanese film noir " that possessed "intentional artificiality and great violence".