In adapting Seijun Suzuki's surreal 1967 B-movie "yakuza noir" Branded to Kill, Patrick Harrison--who also directs and stars--has run with fundamental principle of Suzuki's: "There is no film grammar." This freedom from rules makes for a liberating show--and one becomes so immersed in the madcap presentation that it takes a while to realize that his company, Depth Charge, actually has a lot of structure behind their work. (It's almost disappointing to learn that this group has ties to Richard Foreman and John Zorn's Astronome.) Adam Scott Mazer's fight scenes are deliriously entertaining, and he makes the most of the way these ranked assassins run around shooting each other with cocked fingers, yelling the word "bang." Dave Harrington's live music--whether it's a schizoid remix of sampled sounds, a battering of cymbals, or the seductive plucking of a giant cello--adds to the immediacy of the atmosphere. And there's always something new: a pas de deux between a puppet bullet and butterfly as they arc in lazy circles; a slapstick sequence in which characters flee a floating cross-hair. The show is disturbingly erotic, too: Hanada (Harrison) has a boiled-rice fetish, and we see his wife, Mami (Alexandra Hellquist), tease him into violence with it; later, it will spill in slow motion out of the lips of his new lover, Misako (Margaret Odette Perkins). Don't dismiss this as pure imagery: when Mami mounts Hanada, wearing a butterfly mask and silhouetted in red light, the emotions are raw and very real. On a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being "Dis-u-grace-u-ful" and 5 being "The #1 killer," Butterfly, Butterfly, Kill Kill Kill! gets a 4.5.
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