Take Aim at the Police Van

Take Aim at the Police Van

I’m just a prison officer…I should leave it to the cops

Wise words from Daijiro Tamon the main man in this impressive policier from Nikkatsu Studios but so peculiar are the events of the opening scene that he just cannot let it lie. He is a guard tasked with transporting a van load of prisoners. En route to jail his vehicle is shot at and two cons in his care are killed. This being Japan the blame is laid at his feet and he’s suspended from his job for six months. But rather than chill and enjoy the forced break he decides to investigate who is behind the killings and like any of the great Raymond Chandler stories the investigation uncovers more and more layers of deceit the deeper Tamon delves.

Take Aim at the Police Van is directed by Seijun Suzuki, notorious hellraiser and scourge of near enough every studio he ever worked for. The film clocks in at just under 80 minutes and Suzuki manages to find a nice rhythm that matches economy with his trademark moments of craziness: naked strippers are shot through the breast with arrows; pistols magically jump out of the paws of gangsters into the the waiting hands of our protagonist while the gunman of the film’s title might well be the most inefficient assassin in movie history.

Take Aim at the Police Van

Amongst all this fun the plot plays second fiddle and it seems the director is never really concentrating that hard on it. The story involves human trafficking, brothels & a mysterious crime boss and ends in a fabulous scene set in a train yard after midnight that has the same feel (and a rather similar denouement) to the British film Night of the Demon, made a few years previously.

As so often with Suzuki it’s the journey rather than the destination, so just ignore the oft cliched language and the frequent bouts of silliness and enjoy the ride.

その護送車を狙え aka Take Aim at the Police Van – directed by Seijun Suzuki (1960)

In Short
A taut crime drama from the ever mischievous Seijun Suzuki. Like a good Raymond Chandler, what lies at the heart of the mystery comes to matter a great deal less than the investigation itself.
Trailer here