A Colt Is My Passport: ”Chasing memories. Wandering ganglord. I’m sure happiness will come soon. You once said with a smile. But, now your face is a ghost in the mist.”

Year: 1967
Directed by Takashi Nomura
Produced by
Written by Nobuo Yamada, Shuichi Nagahara and Shinji Fujiwara
Cast:Jô Shishido, Chitose Kobayashi, Jerry Fujio, Shôki Fukae, Zenji Yamada, Eimei Esumi, Jun Hongô, Akio Miyabe, Toyoko Takechi, Kôjirô Kusanagi, Ryotaro Sugi, and Takamaru Sasaki

A Hitman hired to kill a crime boss finds himself doublecrossed by the criminal organization he was hired by. Now, he and his partner must outsmart his former employer and the murdered crime boss’s gang searching for them to enact their revenge.

A Colt Is My Passport, at first glance, is a mirror image of its protagonist Shuji Kamimura cold, economical and single-minded. It is this single-mindedness that lets the narrative flow so ceaselessly.
Not a single frame of A Colt Is My Passport is put to waste. It starts with Shuji being given details about the daily life of his target just right before the assassination. The actual assassination is carried out with a spartan like discipline amidst a poetic tranquility. Afterward, the narrative becomes a giant game of cat and mouse as Shuji and his loyal parther Shun must outwit all those trying to kill them. The hunter has became the hunted.

In this framework, A Colt Is My Passport almost takes a form of a Western. The motel that Shuji and Shun take refuge in is like something out of a shantytown from a Western. Despite a contemporary setting, most of the locales are isolated seasides and outskirts .Shuji and Shun are total outlaws. There is no protection for them inside of the law or outside of the law. Like a traditional western, there is even a lost beautiful woman trying to escape the seedy town for a better life. Mina comes to fall in love with Shuji or just perhaps what he represents. A free spirit that lives life according to his own whims. Shuji may possess the look of a stone face killer but to say that he is only that would be to sell him short. Shuji has a keen concern to not harm those around him if he does do harm, Shuji does try to compensate the wrong party. Many action heroes pay little to no attention to collateral damage but Shunji is an exception. Self-sacrifice is not a trait you would associate with a hitman, yet Shuji bucks the trend with some altruistic tendencies.

Yet, the western conventions are only one side of A Colt Is My Passport. The visual trappings are obviously one of film noir. The black and white visuals produced a shadowy world that’s familiar and a worthy tribute to the American film noir it imitates. Outwardly at least, the Yakuza are little different from their American counterparts, so this swap feels not forced. A Colt Is My Passport is steep in American pop culture iconography but the innards retain a clear ”Japanese-ness” from the constant sense of duty and honor that Shuji exhibits in face of danger. The final showdown is the perhaps the most deliberate homage to a Western due to the far-flung site and the settling dust everywhere. The final shootout has little dialogue to convey meaning but the body language is well crafted enough that it is unnecessary. The final images of Shuji is a powerful farewell for its striking parallels with similar endings in Westerns.

A Colt Is My Passport is a painstakingly cool and eclectic effort that takes great amount of cues from Westerns while at the crux is an effective film noir.

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