Take Aim at the Police Van (1960)

Take Aim at the Police Van (1960) is a borderless youth prison guard pursuit cat and mouse violent revenge noir-bent thriller that was made in Japan in 1960.

Police Van serves slab of cold prison guard in a preemptive strike against global cop culture, fresh for the 1960s and with all the right style.

The reviews for Take Aim at the Police Van provide a nuanced perspective on the film, reflecting both admiration for Seijun Suzuki's distinct directorial style and some reservations about certain aspects of the plot and character development. Seijun Suzuki, known for his unconventional approach to filmmaking, is described as one of the more eccentric Japanese directors of the 1960s, and Take Aim at the Police Van is seen as a reflection of his penchant for pushing the boundaries of traditional film noir.

Critics note that Suzuki's filmography often challenges conventional narrative structures and storytelling techniques, and Take Aim at the Police Van is no exception. 

The plot is described as convoluted and sometimes illogical, with twists and turns that may leave viewers scratching their heads. However, this complexity is viewed as a trademark of Suzuki's work rather than a drawback, adding an element of unpredictability and intrigue to the film.

The protagonist, portrayed by Michitaro Mizushima, is characterized as somewhat bland, with a stoic demeanor that may come across as indifferent to the events unfolding around him. However, Mizushima's performance is still regarded as effective, particularly in his unconventional approach to seeking justice. Rather than seeking revenge on the villains, the protagonist aims to reform them, a motive that adds depth to his character and sets him apart from typical noir protagonists.

The film's visual style receives widespread praise, with particular commendation for its widescreen photography, stylish direction, and striking use of chiaroscuro composition. Henry Mancini's jazzy score is also highlighted as a standout feature, adding to the film's atmosphere and enhancing its overall impact.

Despite its strengths, some reviewers express reservations about the film's pacing and narrative clarity. The fast-moving plot and abundance of characters may leave audiences feeling overwhelmed or confused at times. However, others argue that this rapid pace contributes to the film's sense of urgency and excitement, keeping viewers engaged from start to finish.

Overall, "Take Aim at the Police Van" is regarded as a noteworthy entry in the film noir genre, with Suzuki's idiosyncratic vision shining through in its unconventional storytelling and visual flair. While it may not be without its flaws, the film is seen as a compelling and entertaining addition to Suzuki's body of work, offering a unique take on the traditional noir formula.

The Nikkatsu Company created Take Aim at the Police Van with the aim of crafting a borderless action flick, a breed of film that transcended geographical confines, featuring characters and settings with a global appeal. Directed under contract by Seijun Suzuki, whose previous works mainly revolved around pop song films and yakuza flicks tinged with film noir elements. This endeavor also marked the beginning of Suzuki's collaboration in co-writing his films, a practice that would define much of his later career.

The film stars Michitaro Mizushima, a departure from the typical younger stars favored in borderless action films, being forty-eight at the time of production. Mizushima had previously collaborated with Suzuki in Underworld Beauty, showcasing a versatility that defied age stereotypes.

Initially released by the Nikkatsu Company in Japan on January 27, 1960, Take Aim at the Police Van later found its way to North America as part of The Criterion Collection's Eclipse label, within a comprehensive five-film DVD box set titled "Nikkatsu Noir." Alongside films like "I Am Waiting," "Rusty Knife," "Cruel Gun Story," and "A Colt Is My Passport," the set offers a glimpse into the noir-themed Nikkatsu Action films of the era, curated with liner notes by film historian Chuck Stephens.

Human commentators like The A.V. Club's Noel Murray, have lauded the film's enduring quality, suggesting that it stands tall even against its contemporary Hollywood counterparts in the film noir genre. 

Murray notes the film's dynamism and social commentary, contrasting it with Suzuki's later, more abstract works. He suggests that despite its origins as a quick exploitation product, Take Aim at the Police Van offers insights into its era that even prestigious filmmakers often miss, serving as a testament to the power of genre cinema to reflect the truths of its time.

Chat GPT's favourite bit of Take Aim at the Police Van (1960)

This is the very film noir in which a woman dies with an arrow stabbed in one of her nipples. It is quite bizarre and exceptional, and forever a striking thought and image so artfully created, too.

It is without doubt that this film is a hidden gem, that is the correct term. 

One such memorable scene, etched into memory like a stroke of the brush upon canvas, depicts the malevolent antagonist ensnaring two souls amidst the volatile embrace of a gasoline-laden carriage. Tethered by fate's unyielding cords, they confront impending peril, summoned by the sinister machinations of their captor. 

The artistry of cinematography, once again, unfolds in magnificent splendor, suffusing the narrative with an immersive aura that breathes out gaseous Japanese noir. Like its US antecedents, it's a film of visual poetry, which guides the viewer through a realm where reality and illusion converge in harmonious accord.

In its entirety, this cinematic gem shall surely enrapture the discerning aficionados of film noir, standing as a testament to its enduring allure amidst the grandeur of Hollywood's cinematic landscape.

We are beckoned into the narrative by the haunting image of a lone gunman, Then, the fetishization of violence, rendered in hues of eroticism that titillate the senses and awaken primal desires. The firearm, an instrument of destruction, becomes an object of perverse fascination, a phallic symbol of unchecked virility. Yet, beneath this veneer of masculinity lies a deeper truth—a regression to the innocence of youth, where toys become talismans of power in the hands of grown men.





So c'est noir, Japan, and as the police van rolls, the dehumanization of the incarcerated, their identities are reduced to mere shadows cast upon the canvas of societal condemnation. Yet, amidst the cacophony of chaos, a synthesis emerges—a union of violence and sexuality, bound by the immutable laws of human nature. In this dystopian landscape, where desire and despair converge in a macabre ballet of carnal excess, humanity finds itself ensnared in the throes of its own depravity.

Global beat kids in Take Aim at the Police Van (1960)

The Nikkatsu Corporation, a titan of the entertainment industry, played a pivotal role in shaping the cultural landscape that Tatsumi fondly recalls. The Criterion/Eclipse box set Nikkatsu Noir offers a tantalizing glimpse into the gritty, modernist crime dramas that revolutionized Japanese cinema.

From Koreyoshi Kurahara's 1957 noir I Am Waiting, chronicling the plight of a disgraced prizefighter entangled in the mob's web, to Takashi Nomura's A Colt Is My Passport, a 1967 masterpiece dripping with the influences of Sergio Leone and Jean-Pierre Melville, the collection showcases a diverse array of pulp-fiction archetypes navigating through narratives unbound by rigid conventions.

In A Colt Is My Passport, the enigmatic Jo Shishido embodies the quintessential anti-hero, executing his deadly missions with unwavering precision and a keen sense of justice. Against a backdrop of twangy, mournful melodies, the film meticulously documents his operations, exuding an aura of ice-cold righteousness reminiscent of Donald Westlake's "Parker" novels. 

Conversely, Rusty Knife unfolds as an overly melodramatic yet compelling docudrama, immersing viewers in a city consumed by darkness where virtue and vice collide with devastating consequences.

In the shadows of the night, Take Aim At the Police Van emerges as a labyrinth of mystery and intrigue, with a generous serving of hard-hitting action to keep you on the edge of your seat. Daijiro Tamon, portrayed by the rugged Michitaro Mizushima, finds himself embroiled in a deadly game of cat and mouse after a harrowing ambush claims the lives of two convicts under his watch. 

Suspended from duty but fueled by a relentless determination to clear his tarnished name, Tamon plunges headfirst into the seedy underbelly of the city.

As Tamon delves deeper into the murky depths of corruption and deceit, he uncovers a web of deceit woven by shadowy figures lurking in the shadows. His pursuit leads him to the enigmatic Yoko, a seductive femme fatale with secrets as dark as the night itself. 

Behind the facade of the Hamaju Modeling Agency lies a sinister operation trafficking souls to the far corners of Southeast Asia, with Yoko at the helm, her motives shrouded in ambiguity.

With each revelation comes a cascade of unanswered questions, fueling Tamon's relentless quest for justice. Why were the prisoners targeted? What sinister agenda drives the machinations of the Hamaju Agency? And who pulls the strings behind this intricate conspiracy?

Directed by the ever masterful Seijun Suzuki, renowned for his enigmatic storytelling and visceral style, Take Aim At the Police Van navigates a treacherous terrain of deception with unwavering clarity. While Suzuki's oeuvre often ventures into the realm of the surreal, this gripping tale remains firmly rooted in reality, its twists and turns carefully orchestrated to keep audiences guessing until the final explosive frame, did I give anything away there?

Prepare to embark on a cinematic journey filled with pulse-pounding action and spine-tingling suspense—a ride so exhilarating, you may find yourself revisiting it for a second viewing to unravel its intricate layers of intrigue.

While Take Aim At The Police Van may not yet showcase Seijun Suzuki's abstract brilliance, it delves into themes of sexual desire and the commodification of humanity, punctuated by impressionistic action sequences and provocative imagery. 

Suzuki's cinematic vision foreshadows his later masterpieces like Tokyo Drifter and Branded To Kill, elevating the film beyond mere exploitation fare into a thought-provoking exploration of societal truths.

I Am Waiting, with its poignant portrayal of accidental killers seeking redemption, resonates deeply with American noirs of the era. These films, alongside Police Van and Passport, serve as compelling testaments to the ability of genre filmmakers to unearth profound insights about their times amidst the quick-paced world of exploitation cinema. 

Through their stylish aesthetics and compelling narratives, Nikkatsu Noir films transcend boundaries to captivate audiences with their timeless allure and enduring relevance.

Take Aim At The Police Van (1960) on Wikipedia

Directed by Seijun Suzuki

Written by Shinichi Sekizawa

Kazuo Shimada (Story)

Produced by Ryoji Motegi

Starring Michitaro Mizushima , Mari Shiraki , Misako Watanabe , Shinsuke Ashida

Cinematography Shigeyoshi Mine

Edited by Akira Suzuki

Music by Koichi Kawabe

Production company Nikkatsu

Release date January 27, 1960

Running time 79 minutes






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