I’ll declare myself right away, at the risk of making some enemies: Tokyo Drifter is what Cowboy Bebop aspires to be. Since I’m in Adelaide, a safe distance from Deni’s wrath, I’ll continue.
First, the hero, Tetsu the Phoenix: lordy lordy, what a man. Powder blue suit, white buckskin shoes, and the ultra-cool demeanour of one who knows he’s got the entire female population in the palm of his hand and doesn’t care. A matinee idol with the high cheekbones, complex hairline, and pouty lips of Jet Li, he strolls through the film kissing his girl and kicking his enemies with equal elan. Even while escaping from squads of goons sent to eliminate him, he can’t resist taunting them by whistling or singing his signature song.
Oh, that song. A slow, sultry jazz number that I’m still humming days after. Tetsuya Watari, the pouty hero, apparently needed some voice coaching to sing it, although Chieko Matsubara, the torch-song heroine, did not. It was but the icing on the cake, though, of an indescribably funky film that played with genre conventions and tossed them aside. Preferably into the snow, through which our hero waded in his white shoes, only a trench-coat protecting his powder-blue suit. But then, as he says “a wanderer needs no woman”, and apparently doesn’t need warm clothing either.