02 July 2010
Picked at random as I think about a script involving gangsters, I knew little about this except it starred the hard-ass baby-faced Joe Shishido and it was part of Eclipse's "Nikkatsu Noir" series, but with a title like A Colt is My Passport how wrong could I go?
In fact, it's the perfect title, because this is 100% pure pulp. The score sounds like a spaghetti western, and though this isn't that it sets the right tone: this isn't here to make you think. It's here to keep the bullets flying. The story actually has some sneaky things going on -- hired by one crime lord to assassinate another, the first crime lord then sells him out to the dead boss's successor (his son) in order to seal a pact and merge the gangs into one, so from the very beginning Shisido's character is a pawn in a savvy and savage power-play -- but it breezes right over it without getting bogged down in any kind of machinations or remunerations (though [spoiler] Shishido does kill pretty much everybody). The story isn't so much the point, and the characters in it all have fairly stock motivations. This is any pulp noir story from any country who was putting out pulp noir stories. However, it's pretty good for just pulp, and snazzily shot too.
I don't have much else to say. What can I say? Joe Shishido is cool, a favorite actor from 60s Japanese cinema. It looks pretty. It moves along with a series of obstacles and resolutions. Most of the obstacles are men with guns. Half of them are resolved through hiding or fleeing; the other half are resolved through showdowns. In the end our hero proves himself absurdly noble as well as ingenious and obstinate -- and unkillable. It's good-ish drama, but it's light. I imagine looking deeper may be rewarding, but on first viewing you just let the action all happen. It's pulp. It works. Good job, guys.