Drunken Angel Reviews
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.
[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]
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.
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.
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.
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.