Today I watched Takashi Nomura’s A Colt Is My Passport (1967)
Another day, another Japanese crime drama, though this time swap out the excessive violence and comic mischief for some real drama. Our hero is the assassin Kamimura, and the film takes care to show the details of his procedure. He is hired by some yakuza to take out a rival boss and then is predictably double crossed. The reason for this betrayal is basic greed as the two gangs decide to just pay each other off and eliminate the expendable assets.
This theme of bosses shafting their employees is a theme that runs throughout the film, one could almost say it’s a Marxist gangster flick. Stylistically the film borrows heavily from the largely American genre of Film Noir, but in a move I find typical of Japanese Noir of this era, it kicks up the angsty energy significantly. The combination of this style and theme leads to quite a cathartic experience if you don’t like your boss. But don’t get the wrong impression, this is not an all ahead full action flick, the noir sensibilities run deep in it’s pacing, which kicks off with a bang before settling into a slow and moody build.
This film is also notable for being one of Joe Shishido’s finest performances, despite being among his first starring roles. The role requires a lot of work on his part as the procedural elements of the story take complete precedence during the opening act and there is very little in the dialogue to evoke an interesting person. But Shishido’s passion is clear and gives Kamimura an inner fire that is difficult to define. As the plot progresses and his attempts to flee Japan are consistently thwarted, he successfully transforms that passion into a deeply relatable frustration. So between his charisma, the impeccable style, and the fun themes, this is a must see of 60’s Japanese cinema. 5/5