Seijun Suzuki / Japan / 1963 / 89 mins
Available on Blu-Ray
This hard-hitting crime drama follows Detective Tajima (Jo Shishido) as his assignment to find a cache of stolen guns gets him involved with the Yakuza.
Famed action director Suzuki begins the film literally with a bang, as a shootout between rival gangsters leads to a car busting into flames while the opening credits roll. The rest of the film continues in the same fashion, bouncing from action to drama at a rapid rate, whilst also interspersing the proceedings with comedic sections involving Tajima and his partners.
Whilst the plot is a little derivative, bearing more than a passing similarity to other potboiler thrillers, Suzuki’s stylistic choices (one sequence involving a confrontation begins in a room bathed in red light) and the spirited performances from all involved (especially from Japanese star Shishido as Tajima) more than compensate for the narrative shortcomings.
As part of the “Nikkatsu Noir” genre (noirish thrillers produced by Japan’s Nikkatsu Studios and directed by Suzuki), the film manages to create an atmosphere worthy of its Western counterparts. However Shishido’s portrayal of Tajima has more of a sense of humour than the likes of Humphrey Bogart or Sean Connery‘s Bond. This allows the character to have a few bumbling comedic moments that would seem alien to his Western equivalents at the time, including taking part in a song-and-dance number!
The pace sags a little during the film’s middle section, with Suzuki relying on one too many nightclub scenes involving musical numbers. However, the climax involving Tajima being trapped in a burning nightclub basement, as well as an epic gun battle between their various Yakuza factions and the police, more than makes up for this.
Despite a generic plot and an over-reliance on early 60s musical numbers, Detective Bureau 2-3: Go To Hell, Bastards! more than lives up to its unique title, providing enough action and style to engage the viewer and draw favourable comparisons to the Connery Bond films of the era.