Donald Richie described Branded to Kill as something like an “anarchist” effort of yakuza cinema for its own sake. This may be fair. Seijun Suzuki is the avant-garde-ist to Hiroshi Teshigahara’s surrealist, particularly when putting Branded to Kill next to Woman in the Dunes. The former has some impressive shots, but its contempt (boredom, really) for traditional narrative and use of a jazz soundtrack with pseudo-Expressionistic angles and imagery make the film a departure from mainstream early-mid 1960s Japanese cinema. It also seems quite fair to assume that Suzuki was enthralled with Godard (particularly Breathless) and others in the French New Wave, wanting to work such rule-breaking techniques into the blossoming Japanese New Wave. What would have been an entertaining yakuza film became instead an art film for pretentious college students. It works, but probably better on multiple viewings with a positive prejudice.