Written by Shūichi Nagahara and Nobuo Yamada and directed by Takashi Nomura “A Colt is My Passport” is a 1967 Japanese Yakuza noir film. The film focuses on hitman Shuji Kamimura (Joe Shishido) and his partner Shun Shiozaki (Jerry Fujio) when they’re hired by a Yakuza gang to kill the boss of their rival gang. The rival boss had scrapped a previous deal and gotten too greedy in their eyes, most of the story follows Kamimura and Shun while they try to leave the country after the job was finished.
At an hour and twenty minutes this crime caper keeps the pace light and the wit snappy. I was surprised by the speed of the cuts and the use of the camera, it was almost reminiscent of Edgar Wright in a way (though I know if anything it was the other way around). The way the film keeps flipping the tables on the team of assassins after they’ve been shown to be prepared and efficient accelerates the level of threat that they’re now under. A few double crossings later, and even a femme fatale in Mina (Chitose Kobayashi) a motel waitress they run into who has a few tricks up her own sleeve, and eventually we end in a good old fashioned shootout-albeit with a few modifications that warmed this cinephile’s celluloid heart.
This film may not have been The Most Daring thing ever seen on The Silver Screen!, or a cultural touchstone, but I had fun with it. I really enjoyed watching another culture emulate our own creations in the noir genre. There may not have been any rain or trench coats, but it felt like a noir film. What I found to be rather impressive was the world building for such a Saturday night crime thriller. The two warring gangs feel as though they’ve long been a presence in the area and know where and when they can operate. In fact, I’m not sure if the character of Shuji Kamimura had more than one film appearance but I wouldn’t be surprised if he did, he functioned as a sort of Japanese James Bond with some Sam Spade mixed in for good measure. “A Colt is My Passport” was an entertaining crime flick, and I suggest giving it a watch if you come across it.
Final Score: a few good hitmen