By Tim Purtell
Updated February 13, 1998 at 05:00 AM EST

Japanese director Seijun Suzuki was dismissed from his longtime studio soon after the release of this gangster parody for “incomprehensible” work. They just didn’t get it. Ostensibly about a hitman (Shishido) who is targeted by his own syndicate when he botches a job, Branded to Kill is aggressively, and oh so pleasurably, incomprehensible — a delirious jumble marked by abrupt switches in locale and mood, outrageous characters (the hitman’s wife is a sex-crazed, clothing-challenged hysteric), and daft touches (Shishido’s tough yakuza loves the smell of boiling rice). Utterly au courant 30 years later, Suzuki’s giddy nihilism (also much in evidence in Home Vision’s simultaneously released Tokyo Drifter) makes Quentin Tarantino seem downright sentimental. B+

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