Annu-Mari

Branded to Kill (Seijun Suzuki, 1967)

No surprises here : the absurdly stylized yakuza film that got Seijun Suzuki fired from Nikkatsu ranks among my all-time favorites. An amazing blend of noir, pop art verging on shock pop and erotica, prefiguring much of the pinku eiga releases Nikkatsu would become known for less than five years later, it also stars a brilliant Joe Shishido at the height of his career (the excellent A Colt is My Passport was also released in 1967).

Most importantly, it makes great use of the stunning Indo-Japanese Annu Mari as the femme fatale, an actress that didn’t do much else, but whom I’m impatient to see more of, if only I could find a copy of Ko Nakahira’s musical The Spiders no Dai Shingeki (1968; a.k.a. The Spiders Go Forward! a.k.a. The Spiders on Parade) or Yuji Tanno’s seemingly impossible-to-find and amazingly titled Mini Skirt Lynchers (1969),which also stars Meiko Kaji!

 Better known for the bondage-themed pink films Rope Cosmetology (1978), Rope & Skin(1979) and The Woman with Pierced Nipples (1983), Shogoro Nishimura also directed her in 1970's Zankoku onna jôshi and Yukio Noda's Furyo bancho ichimou dajin also looks promising, if even harder to locate. I should probably start by revisiting “The Endless Counterattack (Hateshinaki Gyakushū)," the 32nd episode of Ultraman in which Mari also appears.Unrelated to her, I also plan on getting to Suzuki’s semi-sequel to Branded to Kill, 2001's Pistol Opera, which looks awesome in its own right.