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By Eric Campos | June 9, 2003

I have to admit, this is the first Seijun Suzuki film I’ve ever seen, even though I’ve heard his name float from the mouths of Asian cinemaniacs over the past several years. Up till now, all I’ve gathered about the guy is that he’s supposedly made some classic films and that he looks like Colonel Sanders. Now that I’ve been presented his latest, “Pistol Opera,” I’ve finally witnessed what all the hub-bub is about, even though it didn’t really connect with me.
Female assassin Stray Cat (Miyuki), ranked number three in a guild of professional killers, is climbing the short, but rough ladder to become the numero uno assassin. Being that number two, “Useless Man,” is taken out at the film’s beginning, all Miyuki has to do is wipe out number one, “Hundred Eyes,” to claim his spot on the top of the pro killer chart. The job soundS easy enough, but there’s the problem of nobody knowing who Hundred Eyes really is, and there’s also the dilemma of rival assassins hot on Miyuki’s tail as they too wish to climb the ladder.
Sounds like a basic action/thriller set-up, but then Suzuki comes along with his trademark style, which has become so popular with the kids today, and turns the whole thing into live theater, fuckin’ trippy a*s live theater at that. To tell this simple, but decidedly convoluted story, the characters use body language more than actual dialogue to convey their thoughts and feelings, creating even more confusion. This is why, despite some pretty camerawork and the use of rich, vibrant colors, often bordering on psychedelic, my attention increasingly drifted elsewhere until the last third of the film when “Pistol Opera” was merely something taking up space on the screen in front of me.
So now that I’ve seen one of “the master’s” films, I still can’t tell you what the appeal is. “Pistol Opera” is unique for sure, it just never made me want to follow it down its strange path.

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