Naked Bullet is a light Japanese 60s gangster flick with its fair share of nudity and quite a lot of bullets. The film breathes the air of the 60s and feels like a tasty but forgettable snack one has in between a great lunch and an awesome dinner. Director Kôji Wakamatsu (1936-2012) directed more than 100 films during his lifetime, all the way up to his death, and even though it certainly is entertaining, it is not one of the films he is remembered for. But that doesn’t mean it should be forgotten.
The film follows Shou (Ken Yoshizawa), a gangster who got in trouble with his former boss over a girl. 5 years have passed since that day and he still holds a grudge as he has since started to work with a gang of his own. He crosses paths with Akemi (Miki Hayashi), a girl who works for his former boss and he and his guys take her captive.
The plot is pretty straightforward and has the qualities that makes it a mix of noir and pinku. Wakamatsu shot the film in black and white, but surprisingly switches to color a couple of times. Wether this is done for artistic reasons or simple because the budget didn’t allow the film to be shot completely in color, I don’t know, but it surely is a fresh input in the film and works really well at one point.
One element that certainly stands out is the film’s jazzy soundtrack. It strengthens the 60s climate of the film and helps with giving it a light feel. With a running time of just 71 minutes, the pace is quite high and doesn’t leave much room for unnecessary plot elements. Not that it needs any complicated subplots; as an easy gangster flick it doesn’t pretend to be more than that as it takes you to its abrupt, and quite surprising, ending.
So if it is one of those days where you have nothing to do and feel like you have an hour or so to spare, have a look at Wakamatsu’s Naked Bullet: a short, jazzy, 60s pinku noir that may not be very memorable, but it sure is one of those tasty snacks you like to eat every once in a while.