Like a cubist master’s early work; might be an academic proof of talent but for the lines sketched with unusually brutal strokes: half-breathing bodies thrown under the tires, a gun pointed at a baby’s skull, fornication in a bear trap. As self-consciously a “thrilling western movie” as Suzuki ever made, coherent and tightly plotted, though closer to proudly cheap post-war B’s than to Stagecoach. Also a reminder that Suzuki’s years in the wilderness of TV had the unintended benefit of reacquainting him with 4:3, which he deploys as effectively as scope. Compositional strategies here find full flower in the (very different) Taisho films decades later.
This has an energy and a geometric conception of space worthy of late silent Lang. One stunning moment among many: the police officer chases his mark through a series of tenement buildings while Uchida tracks him from a fixed point at the center of the complex, panning the camera in a circle and circumnavigating the block as he darts between alleys, dipping in and out of sight.
Uchida possesses a taste for procedure and ferocious exposition that seems to disappear…
Almost as if Soi Cheang heard the concept of "heroic bloodshed" and thought someone meant it literally (the first heroic blood drive movie?)
The fights here are aces: brutal, fast, and expressionistic, but with total clarity of movement and space. Cheang just shoots the hell out of this thing. It's easy to see what he picked up from To and company--the cavernous use of widescreen, the breathless plotting, making Louis Koo look terrible--but it's also very much a confirmation of…