When yakuza hit man Tetsu (Watari) is told by his boss, Kurata (Kita), that he has decided to disband the gang and go straight by buying an office building, the loyal enforcer starts to think about a new life. Yet other competing gangs still hold grudges against Kurata and his syndicate. Flashy rival boss Otsuka (Esumi) also wants in on the building deal, so he has top henchman Tatsuzo (Kawaji) beat Tetsu senseless, then threatens to frame Kurata for a murder he didn't commit. With Kurata's blessing, Tetsu finally leaves Tokyo, but the violence seems to follow him wherever he goes, in the form of the vengeful Tatsuzo. Will there ever be any rest for this Tokyo drifter?
Suzuki's deliriously, over-the-top B movie about a crooning yakuza in a powder blue suit earns its status as one of cinema's foremost cult items. Seen today, this wildly colored '60s time capsule is best appreciated for its style rather than its substance — specifically, its surreal production design and hot jazz scoring, punctuated by splashes of meticulously choreographed violence. Trivia note: when the Nikkatsu studio heads first saw the finished film, they simply didn't get it, and almost shelved the movie. Thank God they didn't, as "Drifter" endures as a campy treat no movie lover should run away from.