aka 爆破３秒前 aka Bakuha 3-Byo Mae 1967 Screenplay by Hideichi Nagahara
Based on the novel by Haruhiko Oyabu
Directed by Motomu Ida (as Tan Ida) 3 Seconds Before Explosion uses the basic war treasure plot we’ve seen from flicks such as Black Tight Killers, but dials back the ridiculousness to try to become more James Bond than anything else. Yabuki (Akira Kobayashi) is the secret agent hero who fights to solve the case, which contains a bunch of kidnappings and treasure hunting in between the random action scenes.
At this point Akira Kobayashi was at the height of his popularity, having helmed multiple series for Nikkatsu, even becoming a pop star along the way. When you work through Nikkatsu’s Borderless Action films, you’ll see him just as often as Joe Shishido pops up, sometimes alongside Joe Shishido. While Shishido may have the fake cheeks that somehow made ladies swoon, with his natural good looks and bad boy charm, Kobayashi is much better suited to play a suave secret agent type that would have a numerical code name. When each actor walks into a nightclub scene and stands around smoking, Shishido looks like he’s sizing up the room to beat everyone up while Kobayashi just looks so cool he make everyone else look like rabble.
The comparison to Black Tight Killers bears repeating, because not only is there a war treasure, but people related to those involved in hiding the treasure are kidnapped. This time the villains are part of an international gang lead by a rapist German named Galen (Galen the German??), and the treasure belongs to the made up new nation of Rabaley. This switch from the treasure being ostensibly owned by Japan lowers the stakes, because nobody cares if a fake nation gets a random treasure. In fact, you might cheer for them to not get the treasure, because I hear Rabaleans are a bunch of jerks. Allegedly. Please don’t invade me, mighty Rabaley! Continue reading →
aka 拳銃は俺のパスポート aka Koruto wa Ore no Pasupoto 1967 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. Continue reading →