Dr. Akagi (1999)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Following up on his acclaimed and Cannes Grand Prix-winning Unagi, veteran iconoclast Shohei Imamura directs this gleefully ragged tale about one very dedicated, though defiantly eccentric, doctor during the waning days of the Second World War. Dr. Akagi (Akira Emoto) is a small-town physician who sports a prim white suit and straw hat as he runs at full gallop from one case to the next. His diagnosis is always the same no matter the symptom: hepatitis. Along the way, he enlists the help of a young lass named Sonoko (Kumiko Asou) whose mother is a prostitute. Before she leaves home, mom gives her this kernel of maternal wisdom: give your physical devotion away to only your true love, make everyone else pay. She decides that the lucky recipient will be Dr. Akagi. Unfortunately, he has little interest in anything other than finding a cure for hepatitis. One day he happens upon a bruised and battered Dutch soldier (Jacques Gamblin) who escaped from the local POW camp. Realizing that returning to the camp would spell death for the lanky escapee, the doctor hides him with the aid of drug-addled fellow doctor (Kotsuke Sera) and an alcoholic Buddhist priest (Juro Kara). In gratitude to Dr. Akagi's kind act, the Dutchman, a lens crafter in quieter times, helps to fashion him a microscope so that the doctor may look at the very hepatitis germ itself. This film was intended as Imamura's swansong, but in 2001 he came out of retirement to direct the surrealist romance Akai Hashi Noshitano Nurui Mizu. ~ Jonathan Crow, Rovi
Art House & International , Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Imamura Productions


Akira Emoto
as Dr. Akagi
Kumiko Aso
as Sonoko
Juro Kara
as Umemoto
Masanori Sera
as Toriumi
Yukiya Kitamura
as Sankichi
Masa Yamada
as Masuyo
Masatô Ibu
as Ikeda
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Dr. Akagi

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (7)

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | March 25, 2009
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | April 26, 2007
New York Observer
Top Critic

Accomplished at expressing the complexities of human nature and emotions, Imamura has captured a sense of timelessness to the extent that we all but forget the time and place.

Full Review… | February 14, 2001
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Imamura allows himself poetic touches, sparingly.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

As lively, irreverent, and bizarrely cheerful as any of Imamura's previous low-life sagas.

December 31, 1999
Village Voice
Top Critic

Confirms for anyone who saw The Eel that here is one of world cinema's great humanists.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Dr. Akagi

This film has the basic materials to be very good indeed. 1945, Japan. Dr. Akagi on his mission to combat an epidemic of hepatitis; helped in that mission by an escaped POW; while he manages to resist the advances of a young sexpot. Unfortunately, it doesn't resolve itself well at all. Not enough is made of the POW. Or the junkie-surgeon. Or the harlot-turned-nurse. There are more good characters here than our writer/director can handle. Then comes the whale and bomb ending that just seems a confession of failure: "I don't know how to end this so let's just make it absurd." Someone called this a black comedy. Nonsense. It's not a bit funny and that absurd ending doesn't convert what was all along a drama into a black comedy.

Hal Morris
Hal Morris

(***): [img]http://images.rottentomatoes.com/images/user/icons/icon14.gif[/img] I found it to be well-acted and interesting. AKA: [i]Kanzo Sensei[/i]


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