The Nikkatsu Company conceived Take Aim at the Police Van as a borderless action film, a studio subgenre with internationalized characters and setting. Contract director Seijun Suzuki had previously worked mainly on pop song films, a youth subgenre in which the films were built around an already popular song, and yakuza films with an occasional film noir bent. It also marked the beginning of his practice of co-writing his films. Leading man Michitaro Mizushima had also starred in Suzuki's Underworld Beauty two years earlier. He was atypical of borderless action films by virtue of his age, forty-eight at the time, as they typically featured Nikkatsu's younger stars such as Yujiro Ishihara and Akira Kobayashi.
Take Aim at the Police Van was released in Japan by the Nikkatsu Company on January 27, 1960. It was subsequently released in a five-film DVD box set, titled Nikkatsu Noir, in North America on August 25, 2009, under The Criterion Collection's Eclipse label. The set focuses on noir-themed Nikkatsu Action films and also includes I Am Waiting (1957), Rusty Knife (1958), Cruel Gun Story (1964) and A Colt Is My Passport (1967) with liner notes by film historian Chuck Stephens.
The A.V. Club's Noel Murray felt the film holds up against contemporary Hollywood film noirs. Rating it less abstract than Seijun Suzuki's films of a few years later, he highlighted its vim and social candor and named it "[a testament] to how artists pumping out quickie exploitation product can often work in truths about their times that prestige filmmakers can't."