Tokyo Drifter (1966)

Starring: Tetsuya Watari, Chieko Matsubara, Tamio Kawachi, Hideaki Nitani & Eiji Go Directed by: Seijun Suzuki Synopsis: In this jazzy gangster film, reformed killer Tetsu’s attempt to go straight is thwarted...

IMG_8898

Starring: Tetsuya Watari, Chieko Matsubara, Tamio Kawachi, Hideaki Nitani & Eiji Go
Directed by: Seijun Suzuki

Synopsis:
In this jazzy gangster film, reformed killer Tetsu’s attempt to go straight is thwarted when his former cohorts call him back to Tokyo to help battle a rival gang

Video:
Criterion has done a great job at producing hi def transfers from older films.  They continue to impress me and even though this film has been noted to have a contrast issue in the prologue of this film is ridiculous.  There is a note in the booklet that explains the restoration of the film:

“This new high-definition digital transfer was created on a Spirit Datache from a 35 mm low-contrast print.  Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using MTI’s DRS and Pixel Farm’s PFClean, while Image System’s DVNR was used for small dirt, grain, and noise reduction.”

Aside from the note about the restoration of this film, I feel my viewing experience was satisfactory.  Contrary to the oversaturation of black and white colors in the prologue, I feel it fit the film well.  Throughout the film, the higher use of contrast levels were over the top, due to the bright colors of Seijun’s vision.  Details are sharp with close-ups of characters and textures are clear.  The overall restoration of the film is clean and free of damage marks, cuts, stains and warps as described in the explanation.

Audio:
Tokyo Drifter is restored with a linear PCM 1.0, lossless mono audio track treatment.  The sounds are vibrant and the score is clear due to the uncompressed track of Hajime Kaburagi’s music.  Notably there aren’t any sync issues with the dialogue of the film, issues, pops or audio dropouts.  The overall experience of the film is superb.  Criterion does a great job with their audio tracks, so no surprising news here.

Supplements:

  • New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
  • Video piece featuring new interviews with director Seijun Suzuki and assistant director Masami Kuzuu
  • Interview with Suzuki from 1997
  • Trailer
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Howard Hampton

Closing thoughts: 
The overall experience of Seijun Suzuki’s jazzy gangster film was an awesome experience.  I am a huge fan of Suzuki’s work, most notably ‘Branded to Kill’.  Overall fans of Suzuki will be pleased with the restoration of this film to Blu-ray and it is a noticeable upgrade from its SD DVD predecessor.  A gangster film with eye popping colors mixed in with an outstanding soundtrack makes this film one of my all time favorites.  It is a film that can be viewed over and over again.  Criterion continues to impress and I highly recommend this title to anyone gaining interest in Japanese cinema, most notably gangster films.

Technical specifications:

Production release: Nikkatsu
Video release: Criterion Collection

Disc:
Number of discs: 1
Region ‘A’ locked
Runtime: 82 minutes
Chapters:
Case: Standard clear case
Release date: December 13, 2011

Video:
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Audio:
LPCM Audio Japanese 1152 kbps 1.0

Subtitles:
Yes

Extras:
Yes

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