A Colt Is My Passport
aka 拳銃は俺のパスポート aka Koruto wa Ore no Pasupoto
Based on the novel by Shinji Fujiwara
Screenplay by Hideichi Nagahara and Nobuo Yamada
Directed by Takashi Nomura
Shuji Kamimura (Joe Shishido) and his protege/sidekick Shun Shiozaki (Jerry Fujio) are contract killers who are brought in to eliminate a yakuza boss by a rival family. Things go downhill after they complete the mission, getting captured, escaping, and becoming holed up in a hotel while their employer is incentivized to betray them. While in hiding, hotel worker Mina (Chitose Kobayashi) falls for Shuji and dreams of escaping her trapped existence with him, but can they make it out as the jaws of their pursuers closes in?
Director Takashi Nomura is relatively unknown in the west, A Colt is My Passport seems to be his only film that has had a subtitled release. Sort of a shame, because Colt shows a lot of creative flare that manages to use visuals to show important bits of the story without spoonfeeding it to us. Nomura seems to be a fan of Westerns, incorporating elements such as a whistling/harmonica-filled soundtrack (which also has the normal hip jazz sounds of other Nikkatsu noir flicks) and a final showdown in a dusty landfill that is the spitting image of a desolate Western desert landscape.
There is a neat sequence detailing yakuza boss Shimazu’s (Kanjuro Arashi) daily routine and how everything is on a schedule and everything is bulletproof, shown to Shuji and Shun by the man who hired them to kill Shimazu. Later we go through the daily routine again, with camera pans showing no one is tailing Shimazu that day. We see Shuji has already picked when and where he will strike and it setting it up.
Kamimura and Shiozaki end up hiding out at a hotel picked for them by the boss who hired them, Tsugawa (Asao Uchida). It becomes clear from the dialogue that this is not the first time the hotel has been used to hide people, and some of those people have met gruesome fates. Hotel employee Mina was in love with one such man, who was shot by a killer named Senzaki, someone she also used to date and is one of the many goons looking for Kamimura and Shiozaki. Mina’s ability to pick bad boyfriends strikes again with her love for Shuji Kamimura, she seems more in love with the idea of escaping with someone that she sees as noble than actually being in love. And Shuji does play fair, even as he’s being betrayed. He drugs Shun so when they are attacked he won’t suffer. But Kamimura is just too good to be easily taken out, and Mina has an escape plan by ship thanks to crew members that frequent the hotel restaurant.
Shuji Kamimura’s skills lead to the deaths of several of the men chasing after him and gives him the foresight to skip around hiding spots to avoid the betrayal before it happens. But the only way to ensure Shun Shiozaki and Mina are safe involves directly confronting the many people wanting them all dead. The final showdown is straight out of the old west, but modernized with cars and explosives. I recalled the scene in the desert from Lethal weapon, even if both of them play out completely different, as both are modern interpretations of the desert showdowns.
A Colt is My Passport was one of Joe Shishido’s favorite roles, though an oft-copy/pasted blurb claims this was one of his first starring roles, he had been starring in films since 1961, a full six years before Colt was released, including many action films. Some of which are even in the Nikkatsu Noir DVD set! Actually check the “facts” you’re pulling from Wikipedia, people! While I’m not a huge Shishido fan, his work here is well done, the honorable killer who is concerned about the people he cares about and uses his brains and skills to escape danger. I’m actually torn which I like better, his honorable killer performance here, or the doomed criminal lured by the siren song of a big score from Cruel Gun Story.
Jerry Fujio plays the loyal Shun Shiozaki, who sees his boss as a friend and mentor. But he’s also inexperienced, which means Shuji can’t just slip away without him, and Kamimura’s own loyalty code prevents him from abandoning his charge. Chitose Kobayashi is the desperate Mina, whose fate is to love only the doomed or damned. Though she manages to get an escape, it’s not the ideal escape she was looking for. Whether her and Shun Shiozaki will find peace with their circumstances or even end up together will remain a mystery. Unfortunately, her filmography is sparse (she seems to have retired for years after getting married, then did a few acting jobs along with a writing career before dying in 2003) and she’s another victim of Colt being her only English subtitled job. Jerry Fujio has maintained an active career on television and film, including a bit part in Yojimbo.
A Colt is My Passport is an intersection of the honorable gangsters of the past and the modern gangsters who put money and business before loyalty. While Shuji Kamimura’s skill and brains puts him above the average member of the new generation, the sheer number of people out to get him show the changing of the guard. It’s no wonder the final fight was an homage to the mythical Western gun battle, as the mythical honorable yakuza makes his own last stand. Colt is well worth your time for noir or Japanese cinema fans.
Rated 9/10 (logo, danger, the target, not the target, familiar bank teller, HUUUUGE airport map, blackjack!, fish, the new boss is much more friendly)
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