Film Comment - 05/01/2009
"One of the lightest, loosest entertainments of the director's early color period..."
Seijun Suzuki (BRANDED TO KILL) directed this stylish, irreverent take on the yakuza genre. It stars Jo Shishido as a police detective on the trail of gunrunners in 1960s Tokyo. By turns lurid and comic, DETECTIVE BUREAU 2-3 both immerses itself in crime-film conventions while also wryly poking fun at its source material.
Assigned a standard Yakuza film in the hardboiled vein pioneered at Japan's famed Nikkatsu Studios, director Seijun Suzuki (Branded to Kill) and his frequent leading man Jo Shishido used 1963's Detective Bureau 2-3: Go to Hell Bastards! to flip the Japanese gangster film genre on its ear.
A rapid fire gun heist, credits with an infectious jazz pop score, and a wide-screen close-up of a burning car announce Detective Bureau 2-3 as the film that would both lampoon and redefine Asian crime films for an irreverent new decade of garish panache and ultra-violent cool. The story follows police detective Tajima (Shishido), who, tasked with tracking down stolen firearms, turns an underworld grudge into a bloodbath -- while Suzuki transforms a colorful potboiler into an on-target send-up of cultural colonialism and post-war greed. “This isn't an American TV series,” one of Tajima's doubting subordinates tells the sharkskin-suited, super suave sleuth.
Anarchic, breakneck paced, darkly comic, and stylish to the extreme, Detective Bureau 2-3: Go to Hell Bastards! was a movie unlike anything audiences had ever seen. It would cement Suzuki's fervent popularity at home and heralded his imminent cult status worldwide.