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Drunken Angel (1948)

Cast: Takashi Shimura, Toshirô Mifune, Chieko Nakakita, more...
Director: Akira Kurosawa
    see all cast/crew...
Running Time: 97 min.

In 1945, following the end of 'Pacific War', most of Japan's large towns were vast heaps of ashes and rubble. The virtual bacilli of society were thriving around the black markets. Among the rabble lived an old doctor practicing for the benefit of the poor. As a young man he had ruined himself through fast living, but now is a lovable old humanitarian, operating a small clinic with the help of a nurse whom he rescued from misery.

GreenCine Member Reviews

A Tale of Sorrow and Hope in Postwar Japan by Calafragious April 16, 2004 - 8:15 PM PDT
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
Though not one of Kurosawa's great films, this small, intense story of an aging, alcoholic doctor and the young gangster he tries to save will reward the attention of anyone interested in Japanese films of this time. Though this film concerns only a few characters living in a single poor neighborhood, I know of no other, not even Kurosawa's later masterpiece "Ikiru", that so unsparingly depicts the poverty and misery of war-ravaged Japan at the end of the 1940's, when the worst sort of small time organized criminals preyed upon the people. Takashi Shimura plays his usual role of a flawed person just trying to do the right thing, while Toshiro Mifune chews up the scenery as a young man torn between his better nature and the claims of the life he has chosen. Some caveats: the DVD was produced by a Chinese company and the English subtitles are cursory and occasionally incoherent, for example representing all the Japanese names in Chinese phonemes, and referring to the young man's tuberculosis -- the core of the story -- as "lung disease" which will no doubt puzzle the unwary. But anyone with a little understanding of Japanese culture can get the idea of what is going on, and the acting carries the story. The image has been cropped to TV-aspect, but at this time (right up through "Seven Samurai") Kurosawa used a nearly square aspect anyway, so not much has been lost. All in all a commendable film.

needs new subtitles but glad to have dvd by PKaffen November 2, 2003 - 11:53 AM PST
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
Not one of Kurosawa's most famous (though not exactly obcure either), but significant for the first pairing of Mifune and Shimura (as tb-bound hood and alcoholic doctor, respectively). The relatively simply focus on the relationship between the two men lacks the sweep of Kurosawa's jidai-geki as well as the intricacies of some of his better gendai-geki (like High and Low). Still, some beautiful photography, the symbolic swamp, and the famous paint-swirled brawl at the end stand out and the film is always interesting considered in the postwar context of American occupation (where the relative austerities of the film make more sense). Unfortunately, in this edition, the subtitles are atrocious-both mechanically skewered (at times nearly incomprehensible) as well as off from the original Japanese. Nonetheless, glad to have some version on DVD and thanks for stocking it.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.32)
47 Votes
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Kurosawa & Mifune
There may have never been a more prolific and rewarding collaboration between star and director in cinema history.
Akira Kurosawa

Coming soon: Seven Samurai 3-Disc SE, remasters of Sanjuro and Yojimbo. Wish list: Criterion editions of Dodes'ka-den, The Idiot, I Live in Fear, and Scandal, and an anamorphic remaster of High and Low.

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