Drunken Angel - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Drunken Angel Reviews

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½ August 27, 2016
A lot of people praise this film because it's the first Kurosawa picture with Toshiro Mifune. They just love the guy and this is seen as his breakout role. And I suppose it is at that, but for me the real scene stealer is Takashi Shimura (Kurosawa's other, often unappreciated muse) in the lead role as the drunken but caring doctor. Mifune's fine in it, but we've seen his type of tough guy before. And he's not particularly likeable. Takashi on the other hand, is a pleasure to watch while he navigates the difficult balance that is his character. The film is often seen as a prelude to Kurosawa's later greatness, or at best an early example where he was still learning the ropes, but I think it holds up to any of his later work.

The film stands as a study in opposites. On the most obvious level you have the opposites of the compassionate doctor and the callow yakuza tough. On a deeper level you have the contrast of a drunken man who nonetheless cares deeply about people and a manly gangster who's being eaten up by tuberculosis. They're both living contradictions and the drama comes from the way they explore that.

The world is a living contradiction too. This is postwar occupied Japan so the government is being run by Americans and despite their claims of revolution and improvement the city's in ruins and basically run by gangs of yakuza who thrive on the black market. This is only minutely touched upon due to censorship, but the sense of a decaying society filled with evil but a few good men is very clear. A more obvious contradiction is the yakuza themselves, who speak of loyalty and fraternity but in the end care for nothing but money and power. It's a nasty, cynical work.

And yet, somehow it comes across as a cry of optimism in desperate times. And this is all due to Shimura, whose washed up doctor seems the very epitome of a broken man but still can't give up on people. He's a very Kurosawa hero, one good man against the world, and whether he wins or loses doesn't matter because in the end it's the struggle that counts. The man who has nothing stands for something, which is more than can be said for those who claim to be in the right.
August 15, 2016
Great performances by Takashi Shimura, Toshiro Mifune and Michiyo Kogure. One of my favorite Kurosawa films!
January 30, 2016
I had never seen this film before from one of my favourite director, Akira Kurosawa, and I loved it. I didn't know much about the film, so I was completely surprised by it. Such an excellent film that follows the relationship between a severely ill gangster, and a flawed but caring doctor. The performances from Kurosawa mainstays Takashi Shimura and Toshiro Mifune are both outstanding! Do yourself a favour and seek it out!
Super Reviewer
August 3, 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.
January 23, 2015
Another postwar Kurosawa gem features the two most beloved actors in his canon of work, Takashi Shimura and Toshiro Mifune, acting together more than any other film. Shimura looks about 50 here but acts like he is 70, by that i mean he is wise beyond his years, cynical, and utterly fearless with a bitterness over the insanity of the war, and has a nothing to lose attitude. He even has the audacity to confront one of the crime bosses face to face. He is stuck in the ghetto, crime ridden part of Tokyo, partly due to his drinking problem, but also because he seems to relish being the only doctor brazen enough to care for the derelicts of Japanese society. He takes his Hippocratic oath much too seriously. He is the "Drunken Angel" who tries to save gangster hoodlum Mifune from his TB, because he is after all curable, but Mifune is a complete fool the entire film, and yet, strangely, one ends up caring about him. Only very gradually, very slowly, does his code of honor becomes evident. Mifune has his own loyalties also, but to his horror, he finds part of it is misplaced.
½ January 14, 2015
great stuff. one of my favorites by AK. the ethical, existential, and social questions asked in this film are top notch. aside from this the film is otherwise somewhat average.
December 14, 2014
Kurosawa the master.
November 8, 2014
A brilliant film that is as rambunctious, abrasive and caring as the Drunken Angel (Doctor)
½ September 23, 2014
An intriguing start to our Kurosawa marathon. The chemistry between Shimura and Mifune in the fist half is brilliant, and not a little funny. The other half is bit too predictable as you can quite easily figure out what's going to happen, and not a little sentimental. Still, a film I enjoyed and will most likely see again sometime.
½ July 16, 2014
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.
June 26, 2014
I can't imagine anything better than the troika of Kurosawa, Mifune, and Takashi Shimura in a film. Perfection. And this early Kurosawa film in which he felt free to be himself for the first time, now added as yet another of my favorites from the Master Kurosawa, who has given us more great films than any other director that comes to mind, is close to perfect. Mifune, still not far off from being one of Toho's "New Faces", non-actors who were brought in off the street in contests to see if they had any star power, is riveting. Kurosawa's direction, including his trademark use of water imagery and creative music to set mood and intra-scene tone, gives us an early glimpse of the genius films yet to come. And as always, Takashi Shimura is the perfect foil to Mifnue's boundless energy, though in this film he also occasionally has an emotionally energetic burst, which is really a treat to see from one of the finest actors ever to see celluloid. Top notch, and almost cinema verité in its exposition of postwar Japanese reality.
February 26, 2014
a really good film about a doctor who tries to help a yakuza gang member who is being destroyed by the very system he believes in.
January 18, 2014
A little heavy-handed in its message about the dangers of tuberculosis, and the ending goes on too long. But otherwise a sad, compelling, and entertaining little movie.
November 24, 2013
Two stubborn people with good hearts fight over the healing process of the younger one--the healing being both physically and mentally. My heartstrings were plucked(yes, like the guitar player).
½ September 12, 2013
Drunken Angel is a highly accessible, entertain, and well written film directed by the only Akira Kurosawa. Kurosawa gives us two leads that we learn to care very deeply for. I found this to have many correlations with 'Good Will Hunting'. The doctor as a mentor seeking to help his patient while also giving him a rough wake up call, both for his patient and himself. It isn't a high spirited film, though we can find much to laugh about from start to finish. This, I think, is one of the strengths of Kurosawa.

Visuals: Full Very purposeful camera work. Would love to see an HD remastered copy of this in the future.
8/10
Acting: Our leads are very strong here. But a bit of melodrama from the supporting cast.
9/10
Story: Great writing and well defined characters, surrounded by a very realistic plot.
9/10
Concept: Themes that can relate to anyone. Love, growth, hate, and the willingness to make a difference
10/10
Personal: Very enjoyable and relatable, maybe not directly, but certainly will hit home with anyone.
8.5/10
Re-Watchability: Both entertaining and moving, this should bring you back for more.
8.5/10

8.8/10

Drunken Angel is a highly accessible, entertain, and well written film directed by the only Akira Kurosawa. Kurosawa gives us two leads that we learn to care very deeply for. I found this to have many correlations with 'Good Will Hunting'. The doctor as a mentor seeking to help his patient while also giving him a rough wake up call, both for his patient and himself. It isn't a high spirited film, though we can find much to laugh about from start to finish. This, I think, is one of the strengths of Kurosawa.

Visuals: Full Very purposeful camera work. Would love to see an HD remastered copy of this in the future.
8/10
Acting: Our leads are very strong here. But a bit of melodrama from the supporting cast.
9/10
Story: Great writing and well defined characters, surrounded by a very realistic plot.
9/10
Concept: Themes that can relate to anyone. Love, growth, hate, and the willingness to make a difference
10/10
Personal: Very enjoyable and relatable, maybe not directly, but certainly will hit home with anyone.
8.5/10
Re-Watchability: Both entertaining and moving, this should bring you back for more.
8.5/10

8.8/10
½ June 20, 2013
Una delle caratteristiche di Akira Kurosawa che ha sempre stuzzicato il mio interesse, si riflette sulla sua capacità di saper mostrare delle storie d'attualità con una semplicità disarmante, che per di più perdurano ancora sulle tematiche più scottanti della società moderna. Nel pieno periodo del neorealismo del dopoguerra è uscito in Giappone questo "Yoidore Tenshi": il toccante racconto del giovane Matsunaga, membro della mafia "Yakuza", e ammalato gravemente di tubercolosi. Matsunaga si trova davanti ad un bivio: o scegliere di farsi seguire dal medico Sanada, cambiando quindi totalmente stile di vita, e quindi rischiando di essere messo in quarantena dai suoi capi, o continuare una vita pervasa dall'eccesso, pertanto rischiando la morte. Il punto di vista etico/razionale del regista nei confronti di una collettività corrotta in cui si ritrova, viene espresso dal dottor Sanada (l'immancabile Takashi Shimura) in una delle frasi finali del film: "I Giapponesi sono pronti a rischiare la vita per degli ideali idioti". Kurosawa, probabilmente su vocazione dell'ormai defunto cinema muto, si cimenta in delle riprese veloci, mirate a dare spessore all'espressività visiva, che costituisce una delle qualità migliori della pellicola; il malessere di Matsunaga, e la comunità marcia e ripugnante che fa da sfondo a questa storia, vengono simboleggiate con i numerosi primi piani sul putrido e nauseabondo stagno infetto, location spesso presente in molte scene chiave. Non del tutto convincenti, però, alcuni piccoli dialoghi, qualche volta un pò spiccioli e superficiali in alcune scene minori (stiamo trovando comunque il pelo dell'uovo). "L'angelo ubriaco", forse, non è un capolavoro, ma rimane uno dei set più crudi e realistici di uno dei migliori registi del XX secolo.
May 18, 2013
This is a superbly atmospheric film, and Toshiro Mifune is great as the brooding yakuza. But, like many of Kurosawa's films, it can get a little too ham-handed with its theme.
April 7, 2013
A great film from Kurosawa early on before the Samurai series. Entertaining and as usual superbly filmed. A different kind of film to the samurai films but nonetheless and enjoyable one.
February 5, 2013
Takashi Shimura is terrific as Dr. Sanada, the "Drunken Angel", Toshirô Mifune is compelling in his first film with Kurosawa as a Yakuza (Japanese Mafioso) who finds out he has tuberculosis, and although not completely unfettered by censors, Kurosawa himself shows strong signs of his cinematic brilliance in this, the first film that was truly his own. To illustrate this latter point, I feel inclined to focus on one deceptively simple scene: While having an evening meal with his grandmother and assistant, Dr. Sanada stabs his chopsticks into his bowl of rice - this is a gesture that Japanese people usually never do in such everyday circumstances as it is a funeral ritual and symbolizes death. The scene then fades to a slow pan of the filthy and gurgling sump just outside the house and the center of both the geographical and thematic action of the film. It then deliberately fades back and forth once more between the sump and the contentious dinner table. Kurosawa does this to emphasize 'cause and effect' in this unhealthy neighbourhood - i.e. 'death' (the chopsticks in the rice) and its cause (the sump). A master stroke from the master. And there's also the song "Jungle Boogie" in the jazz club, not to be missed.
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