Seijun Suzuki's career falls into two distinct parts. From the late 1950s until 1967, he was a director of production-line genre flicks at Nikkatsu studios. While working in this seemingly hostile environment, Suzuki cranked out some of the most bizarre, nihilistic, and brilliant gangster films ever committed to celluloid. During the 1980s, Suzuki reinvented himself as a renowned art film director who received numerous awards and much critical praise. In both incarnations, Suzuki was considered one of the most important and influential voices in Japanese cinema.
Born Seitaro Suzuki in Tokyo on May 24, 1923, he failed the entrance exam for the Ministry of Agriculture's college because of his weakness in science. Instead he attended a small college in northern Akita prefecture until he was called up for military service. He witnessed the war first-hand as a second-class private for the Navy, an experience that he found "comical." Upon returning to Japan, he enrolled in the film department of the Kamakura Academy and passed the entrance exam for Shochiku studios. There he worked as an assistant director under Noboru Nakamura, among others. In 1954, he transferred to Nikkatsu, the most sordid and sensational of Japan's four leading studios.