Arrow video gives us another box set of Seijun Suzuki Early Years films. Volume two explores his crime films, school films and what became known as Nippon noir. With great bold sweeps, it is a stunning set. The five films spread across 1957 -1961, are often considered B movies but are all drenched in the style of Suzuki. Eight Hours of Terror (1957), The Sleeping Beast Within (1960),Smashing the 0-Line (1960), Tokyo Knights (1961) and The Man with a Shotgun (1961) .
I will not fully review the films completely as I would like to cover the extras that are on offer here. However I will rank the favoured films. Eight Hours of Terror (1957) is a thriller set on a bus about two criminals on the run after a robbery. It captures tensions cleverly and is well worth starting with. The Sleeping Beast Within (1960) the search for a missing father leads a journalist to the underworld. Gripping and tragic but brilliant. Tokyo Knights (1961) is a school coming of age comedy. Funny and sometimes silly but with layers. Smashing the 0-Line (1960) a investigative journalist team uncover drugs and prostitution, sometimes comes off a little uneasily in favour of blaming non
Japanese players. The Man with a Shotgun (1961) has the balance of sardonic send up but seems to miss the seriousness which should come from it being a western in all but location. It is a film you know where it will go but I enjoyed it enough and have noted the above because people are selective in what they dislike about films.
DVD reviewed so no note other than its standard in all releases. Jasper Sharp on Smashing the 0-Line is excellent. Authoritative and covers all of the family ties, film figures and people that star in the film. You even hear his notes turning as he watches. Its very good. Tony Rayns is the guru of British critical voices. He has a lot to say but I really enjoyed his comments on Man with. The comments on supplanting a western in Japan is excellent. He knows his stuff and seems relaxed enough to reel it all off. Sadly did not see the booklet…
LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS
- Limited Edition Dual Format Collection [1500 copies]
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
- Newly translated optional English Subtitles
- Audio commentary by critic and author Jasper Sharp on Smashing the 0-Line
- Tony Rayns on the Crime and Action Movies – the critic and historian discusses the background to the films, their place within Suzuki’s career and the talent involved with them
- Stills Gallery
- Reversible sleeves featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
- 60-page illustrated collector’s book featuring new writing by Jasper Sharp