Drunken Angel - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Drunken Angel Reviews

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Super Reviewer
April 6, 2015
What most consider to be Kurosawa's first foray into serious filmmaking is a moody and engaging work that is essentially elevated by Shimura and Mifune.
Super Reviewer
September 10, 2011
The genuine compassion of a drunk doctor and the false courage of a Yakuza patient with dishonest pride and reluctant humility, Drunken Angel is an exceptional satire of the unwarranted social-political system, Japan from Akira Kurosawa. Wise. Noble.
Super Reviewer
½ December 30, 2007
a film that improves with each viewing. mifune and shimura always work well together, and the morality tale is well executed. simple but engaging, the film uses tragedy and frustration to announce human struggle and optimism. the film that really gave kurosawa his independence as a filmmaker, this is an excellently shot and well written film.
Super Reviewer
October 24, 2010
A good realistic drama about doctors and about love and life. It's very interesting, I liked it.
Super Reviewer
May 26, 2007
Drunken Angel will not go down as one of my most memorable Kurosawa viewings. To his credit, its one of his earlier outings and despite the fantastic chemistry between Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura and some fantastic shots (any shot of the swap is magnificent) you can tell. The story between an alcoholic doctor and a tuberculosis-ridden thug never seemed to gain the momentum it needed to be noticably successful and despite the gradual return of Mifune's boss, it never seemed smoothly incorporated into the story. But that's just me. Not a bad watch and worth the time but not the most ideal starting point for someone beginning a Kurosawa quest.
Super Reviewer
June 28, 2007
Drunken Angel was the first film Kurosawa was allowed to make without studio interference, and features an alcoholic doctor who forms an unlikely bond with a gangster who he diagnoses with tuberculosis. This film is all about the characters; Takashi Shimura and Toshiro Mifune were regular collaborators with Kurosawa and for good reason. Their performances were a little more melodramatic than in their later works, but they still have great chemistry and charisma as the two similarly stubborn men butt heads almost to comic effect in places. I found the visual metaphor a little heavy handed and it lacks some of the emotional involvement of Kurosawa's best, so it doesn't seem as sophisticated as his finest films. It still has style in spades, and it's great for every moment Shimura and Mifune are on the screen together.
Super Reviewer
½ December 29, 2007
The movie starts quickly and for the next twenty minutes we tend to see the same thing. The gangster with the illness sees the doctor and the doctor says something to piss him off and they end up wrestling and throwing things at each other. I was starting to think that this was all the movie had to offer but as the gangster get worse the relationship of the two start to form. The doctor is eager to help the young man find his way out of the life of crime he has settled into before he dies and the man is forced to make a decision that may cost him his life.
The movie is a little slow but I think the story of the two men is a good one. There is one part of the story involving a woman and another one of the gangsters that seems to fade out in the end and that weakens the overall movie.
The end fight scene seemed to be filmed without much thought to how it looked on film and that hurt the finale for me.
Super Reviewer
½ August 31, 2008
[font=Century Gothic]In "Drunken Angel," Dr. Sanada(Takashi Shimura), lacking any bedside manner, is an alcoholic who drinks to blot out the chocies he made in the past and the present misery of his existence and surroundings, especially the fetid swamp that he overlooks.(The drinking part does not always come easily since this is postwar Japan and alcohol is rationed. So, he improvises...) One night, a gangster, Matsunaga(Toshiro Mifune), comes to his practice, claiming he slammed a nail on his hand but actually it is a gunshot wound. After removing the bullet and cleaning the wound, Sanada diagnoses his patient with tuberculosis and that he desperately needs to get an X-ray and submit himself for treatment.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]Directed by Akira Kurosawa, "Drunken Angel" is a compelling social drama that wonders if anybody is truly beyond redemption. Despite his gruff manner, Dr. Sanada does care for all manner of patients that cross his threshold. For that very reason, he does provide a valuable service to society, no matter how much he may think otherwise.[/font]
Super Reviewer
½ November 10, 2011
A great gangster film and like many great films of that genre, it is about more than money and power. Kurosawa's first collaboration with Toshiro Mifune tells a great story about the relationship between a wayward young yakuza and a stubborn but well-intentioned doctor. They both have two things in common, they love to drink and love to quarrel. The strong script is brought to life by Kurosawa's excellent pacing and profound use of visual metaphors, especially the desolate swamp. Performance of and the chemistry between Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura produce moments of intensity, humour, and genuine compassion. This film belongs up there with the likes of Once Upon A Time In America and Goodfellas. Made in 1948, just 2 years before the beginning of the decade when Kurosawa made his most memorable and illustrious work, this film is the film that started Kurosawa down the path to everlasting cinematic greatness.
Super Reviewer
½ May 16, 2009
This was the eighth film made by the legendary Akria Kurosawa, but many commentators (including Kurosawa himself) look at it as the beginning of his career. This was the first film Kurosawa could make that wasn?t heavily censored or influenced by the propaganda driven wartime government or by the American Occupation censors (although the later did still have some say in the final cut). While Kurosawa will go on to bigger and better things later, there is clearly a budding talent at work here. The film, about the relationship between a Yakuza member with TB and his alcoholic doctor, was set during the occupation and is a document to the living conditions of the time and place. The film?s penultimate scene is a classic Kurosawa action scene which ranks among the best moments of his cannon. That said, the story gets preachy at times, and the character?s aren?t quite as great as they could have been. Still, a fine start for an amazing career.
½ December 22, 2011
One of Kurosawa's lesser films to me. Perhaps it is partly my fault due to my limited knowledge of the Japanese crime world of this time. The movie doesn't do a good job of showing their crime underworld. I also didn't think the relationship between Shimura and Mifune was all that interesting or successfully depicted.
½ October 2, 2010
Kurosawa's study of two very different men forced together by circumstance. Shimura is excellent as the doctor who loves his booze as much as his patients. His blunt, straightforward manner rubs people the wrong way and leads to confrontation but his loyalty to the health of his patients is dogged. Mifune is solid as the local yakuza tough guy whose health forces him to deal with Shimura.
There are some big laughs in this film, especially from Shimura's drunken doctor. His reactions and dry replies followed by explosions of emotion draw laughs. Oddly, some slap-stick humor is mixed into a fight scene that is filmed as very tense. That seemed strange to me. But the direction, look, and sound of this 1948 film were very well done. The acting, especially by Kurosawa"s favorite two leads in Shimura and Mifune was amazing. Shimura really sold me with his performance. An enjoyable film.
½ February 12, 2009
Yoidore Tenshi (1948)

Drunken Angel is an early Akira Kurosawa movie about an alcoholic Doctor Sanada (Takashi Shimura) who treats a gunshot wounded young Yakuza gangster, Matsunaga, played by Toshirô Mifune (this is his first film with Kurosawa) Dr. Sanada discovers that Matsunaga has developed tuberculosis.

Matsunaga has been the cock of the walk in his neighborhood, but he is slowly becoming skin and bones; weakened by the TB. His heavy drinking and carousing around isn't helping. Then his old mob boss (Masao Shimizu) gets out of prison and wants to gear up the crew.

Dr. Sanada exclaims Matsunaga's being exposed to bad people as the same health detriment as the polluted stream that the neighborhood children play in outside his office.
July 4, 2008
Wow, I think this is the youngest I've seen of Mifune. I didn't recognize him until about 45 minutes in. A well done, well-paced (er, if not a little slow) story.
April 7, 2008
(2nd viewing. Got the Criterion edition as a Christmas present. Owned the UK import BFI edition for years.) An early Kurosawa film and his first film he was given total control. Unlike his previous films that were changed by either the Japanese or American government. A fascinating document of life in post-war Japan.
February 11, 2008
Here's my other pickup from Giant Eagle. I know, I'm still amazed. If you want to know the whole story (what little of it there is), read my Sawdust and Tinsel review.

I have to say that I have an entire Post-War Kurosawa set to breakthrough pretty soon so I can't say that didn't loom over me when I watched this movie. Yes, it's great, but I feel like I should address the negative aspects of this movie.

It has a crazy slow, almost boring first act. I'm sorry, Akira, but I was zoning out for the first fifteen minutes of the movie. It should be stated that Akira Kurosawa is my third favorite director after Alfred Hitchcock and Woody Allen. I'm trying to see all of his stuff, but I have always been preferencial to his feudal Japanese stories. But once this movie gets going, it really is very interesting.

This is one of Kurosawa's most character/relationship driven pieces. It is very clear what the two characters want from one another and they butt heads very willfully and stubbornly. I love that kind of stuff. I can watch that all day. The conflict is resolved about half-an-hour before the movie ends, which normally raises some red flags for me, but the action just gets more intense after that. No Frodo getting on a boat for seven hours. (I actually love the ending to Lord of the Rings, but I feel I have to compare it to something that everyone's griped about.) The end is absolutely smashing and is visually very masterful.

I have to say that Kurosawa makes the symbolism prevalent in this one, borderlining obvious. But he never really addresses the symbolism of the stagnant lake, so I give him all the praise in the world for that. Most directors would have had long shots of the muck and the poison and said "My life is like this lake" or something of a similar nature. I appreciate that Akira Kurosawa doesn't think I'm an idiot. Or if he did (and had some kind of amazing future-based psychic abilities), he hid it very well.

Again, I must state that this is not one of my favorite Kurosawas, but it is absolutely great. It's very low-key compared to his other epic films, but sometimes that is needed. If they were all huge, we would think that he was a one trick pony. Admittedly, that one trick is f*cking awesome, but I'd rather have a whole barrel of good times anyway.
Super Reviewer
April 6, 2015
What most consider to be Kurosawa's first foray into serious filmmaking is a moody and engaging work that is essentially elevated by Shimura and Mifune.
½ March 5, 2015
A clean film with a gritty and destructive subject about gangters. Two worlds collide as a helpful but alcoholic doctor tries to help the boss of a gang (addressed as the Yakuza in the film), with a poetically performed ending by Toshiro Mifune, who is the most stand-out performance in the film as the Crime Boss who is slowly turned-round morally after finding out he has Tuberculosis. With persistence and almost futile attempts the alcoholic doctor is turning the young mans life around before he kill himself. The crime boss almost succeeds but as he finds he is leaving the criminal world it is his only sense of pride. Much like the outbreak of tuberculosis; the gangsters of the swamp like town are sucking it dry of life.

Akira Korosawa's first gangster film is centered round a small town infested with The Yakuza mafia, leech like gangsters suck the goodness out of the community while an alcoholic doctor is trying to save whats left. Unlike his previous film One Wonderful Sunday (1947), made after the war, Korosawa (teamed up with Toshiro Mifune who would be an recurring lead actor in his later film) set themes of this film into more of a action film, but still having that massage at he end, that I feel I will see in more of in his films as I continue watching them. A couple of scenes in this film seem almost ripped or payed homage to, for instance; a brilliant scene in a cabaret club with a talented singer who lets it all out in a solo-performance as the clubber's begin to dance- it reminded me of Spielberg opening for Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom with a huge musical number and quick cuts between the scenes, really similar and both just want to make you get up and go with the flow. Other films with a identical themes or scenes would be (since this was gangster movie, a very quite gangster movie, but still has a high seat in that genre all the same) Scorsese's Goodfellas. I will almost definitely reference today's filmmakers' using Kurosawa's film in reviews for him in the future because I feel its the best way to see just how brilliantly original he was to inspire today's greats, most of them any way. To use his thematic style of creating film's this early from his career. One of the best gangsters films ever made with it original style and execution and having inspired a great many gangster movies long after it's time.
December 14, 2014
Kurosawa the master.
November 8, 2014
A brilliant film that is as rambunctious, abrasive and caring as the Drunken Angel (Doctor)
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