New Release: Tokyo Drifter DVD and Blu-ray

Release Date: Dec. 13, 2011
Price: DVD $29.95, Blu-ray $39.99
Studio: Criterion

Tokyo Drifter movie scene

Tetsuya Watari (r.) gets his point across in Tokyo Drifter.

In the jazzy 1966 Japanese gangster crime film Tokyo Drifter, directed Seijun Suzuki (Branded to Kill), reformed killer Phoenix Tetsu’s (Tetsuya Watari) attempt to go straight is squashed when his former cohorts call him back to Tokyo to help battle a rival gang.

The thriller movie’s onslaught of stylized violence and trippy colors reportedly got Suzuki in trouble with the studio heads, who were put off by his anything-goes, in-your-face aesthetic, even though it’s the kind of approach that went on to define much of the over-the-top genre filmmaking that emerged from Japan in the decades to come.

Tokyo Drifter plays as equal parts Russ Meyer (Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!), Samuel Fuller (The Naked Kiss) and Nagisa Oshima (Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence) — and it’s a wild, wild ride.

Criterion’s DVD and Blu-ray releases offer the foreign film with a new high-definition digital restoration, with an uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition and new and improved English subtitle translation.

The company previously issued the movie on DVD back in 1999, supplemented with an interview with Suzuki. That’s included in both of the new editions, along with the following additional special features:

  • video piece featuring new interviews with director Seijun Suzuki and assistant director Masami Kuzuu
  • interview with Suzuki from 1997
  • original theatrical trailer
  • booklet featuring an essay by film critic Howard Hampton
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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.