Youth of the Beast [Criterion Collection] [DVD] [1963]

Youth of the Beast marked a turning point in director Seijun Suzuki's career. No longer content to just crank out production-line gangster films, here Suzuki starts to assert his own voice. The plot is fairly typical for the genre: chipmunk-cheeked Jo Shishido stars as ex-cop Jo Mizuno, who muscles his way into the shadowy world of the yakuza. He gets hired by the clan that killed his former partner while double-dealing with the clan's rival. Yet the plot contains some particularly Suzuki-like details. Why is Jo's partner more interested in guns than in women? Why does Hide, the notorious gay gangster, always slash the face of anyone who mentions his mother? What does this all have to do with the Takeshita School of Knitting? Suzuki's audacious style heightens the absurdity and artifice of both the genre and the medium with pop-art colors, loopy camera placements, and bizarre, dream-like images: A feather-clad dancer silently struts behind sound-proofed two-way mirrors, a pink dust storm serendipitously occurs while a pimp whips a junkie prostitute. The film is a dizzying visual feast whose tone Seijun Suzuki would amplify to the most absurd heights in his later films, Tokyo Drifter (1966) and Branded to Kill (1967).
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Overview

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • Video interviews with director Seijun Suzuki and actor Joe Shishido, made by Nikkatsu in 2001
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • A new essay by film critic Howard Hampton

Synopsis

Youth of the Beast
Youth of the Beast marked a turning point in director Seijun Suzuki's career. No longer content to just crank out production-line gangster films, here Suzuki starts to assert his own voice. The plot is fairly typical for the genre: chipmunk-cheeked Jo Shishido stars as ex-cop Jo Mizuno, who muscles his way into the shadowy world of the yakuza. He gets hired by the clan that killed his former partner while double-dealing with the clan's rival. Yet the plot contains some particularly Suzuki-like details. Why is Jo's partner more interested in guns than in women? Why does Hide, the notorious gay gangster, always slash the face of anyone who mentions his mother? What does this all have to do with the Takeshita School of Knitting? Suzuki's audacious style heightens the absurdity and artifice of both the genre and the medium with pop-art colors, loopy camera placements, and bizarre, dream-like images: A feather-clad dancer silently struts behind sound-proofed two-way mirrors, a pink dust storm serendipitously occurs while a pimp whips a junkie prostitute. The film is a dizzying visual feast whose tone Seijun Suzuki would amplify to the most absurd heights in his later films, Tokyo Drifter (1966) and Branded to Kill (1967). ~ Jonathan Crow, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Jo Shishido
    Jo Shishido
  • Tomio Aoki
    Tomio Aoki
  • Image coming soon
    Nobuo Kaneko
  • Image coming soon
    Tamio Kawachi
  • Masao Shimizu
    Masao Shimizu
Product images, including color, may differ from actual product appearance.