Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Tokyo Drifter (1966)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Tokyo Drifter (1966, Jp.) (aka Tōkyō Nagaremono)

In Seijun Suzuki's excessive, visually-compelling and luridly colorful yakuza-gangster, B-movie crime drama:

  • the opening black and white sequence, in which the main character passively allowed a rival gang of four thugs to beat him up rather than to fight back; he looked down at a red gun (starkly in contrast with the b/w footage), followed by the opening credits in full color
  • the protagonist - reformed killer-hitman Tetsuya Hondo (aka "Phoenix Tetsu") (Tetsuya Watari) faced many challenges, forcing him to return to his former gangland life-style in Tokyo, where there was conflict between his former, patriarchal elderly boss Kurata (Ryūji Kita) and villainous rival leader Otsuka (Hideaki Esumi), who joined forces and sought to eliminate Tetsu using hitman "Viper" Tatsuzo (Tamio Kawaji)
  • the action scene of a duel between the "Viper" and the "Phoenix" on snow-covered train tracks as a locomotive was barreling toward them
  • in the film's final showdown (an archetypal American western shootout), white-suited and white-tied Tetsu returned to Tokyo, entered a triangular, narrow and tall white hallway, and engaged in a gun-battle on an almost-empty nightclub stage (with a white piano) with his traitorous ex-boss' gang members; during the gunfight, Tetsu's strategy was to toss his gun ahead of him, acrobatically lunge for it, and then shoot his opponents; although Tetsu didn't kill Kurata, he offered his former boss a broken glass which Kurata used to commit suicide by bloodily slitting his own left wrist; at the same time, Tetsu's ex-girlfriend and pretty club singer Chiharu (Chieko Matsubara) begged to go with him, but he rejected her ("A drifter needs no woman") and exited the same way he had entered - as the film ended, the rogue hero walked off alone after viewing a montage of blinking neon night-club signs: "Copa Cabana. NEW Latin Quarter! Casanova. SHOPPING ARCADE"


Greatest Scenes: Intro | What Makes a Great Scene? | Scenes: Quiz
Scenes: Film Titles A - H | Scenes: Film Titles I - R | Scenes: Film Titles S - Z