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From the late 1950s through the sixties, wild, idiosyncratic crime movies were the brutal and boisterous business of Nikkatsu, the oldest film studio in Japan. In an effort to attract youthful audiences growing increasingly accustomed to American and French big-screen imports, Nikkatsu began producing action potboilers (mukokuseki akushun, or “borderless action”) that incorporated elements of the western, comedy, gangster, and teen-rebel genres. This bruised and bloody collection represents a standout cross section of what Nikkatsu had to offer, from such prominent, stylistically daring directors as Seijun Suzuki, Toshio Masuda, and Takashi Nomura. I Am Waiting Koreyoshi Kurahara 1957 In Koreyoshi Kurahara’s directorial debut, rebel matinee idol Yujiro Ishihara stars as a restaurant manager and former boxer who saves a beautiful, suicidal club hostess (Mie Kitahara) trying to escape the clutches of her gangster employer. Rusty Knife Toshio Masuda 1958 In Toshio Masuda’s smash Rusty Knife, Yujiro Ishihara and fellow top Nikkatsu star Akira Kobayashi play former hoodlums trying to leave behind a life of crime, but their past comes back to haunt them when the authorities seek them out as murder witnesses. Take Aim at the Police Van Seijun Suzuki 1960 At the beginning of Seijun Suzuki’s taut and twisty whodunit, a prison truck is attacked and a convict inside is murdered. The penitentiary warden on duty, Daijiro (Michitaro Mizushima), is accused of negligence and suspended, only to take it upon himself to track down the killers. Cruel Gun Story Takumi Furukawa 1964 Fresh out of the slammer, Togawa (Branded to Kill’s Joe Shishido) has no chance to go straight because he is immediately coerced by a wealthy mob boss into organizing the heist of an armored car carrying racetrack receipts.

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ECL17 Nikkatsu Noir DVD (I Am Waiting/Rusty Knife/Take AIm at the Police Van/Cruel Gun Story/A Colt is My Passport/1957-67) $69.95 $59.99