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Director Seijun Suzuki dies at 93

"Branded to Kill" (1967)
“Branded to Kill” (1967)

TOKYO (TR) – Renowned director Seijun Suzuki has died at the age of 93 after a battle with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, studio Nikkatsu announced on Wednesday.

Suzuki was known for popularizing films in the yakuza genre, creating unconventional works that were both violent, stylish and humorous.

“We would like to offer our profound thanks and respect for his great achievements,” the studio said in a statement.

The auteur made his debut in 1956 for Nikkatsu with “Victory Is Mine.” Over the next decade, he made the films that would shape his legacy. “Tokyo Drifter” and “Branded to Kill” feature odd camera angles, sultry women and pistol-toting gangsters.

The films would decades later find fans overseas, including the likes of Quentin Tarantino and Jim Jarmusch. However, their reception in Japan was subdued, with the studio firing Suzuki.

He later filed a lawsuit for unfair dismissal but the industry shunned him over the next decade. His last film was “Princess Raccoon” (2005).

Suzuki died in a Tokyo hospital on February 13. A funeral was subsequently held with his wife Takako and former NHK announcer Kenji Suzuki in attendance, according to the Asahi Shimbun (Feb. 22).