Pale Flower (Kawaita hana) (1964)

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Movie Info

Masahiro Shinoda's brilliant film opens with mobster Murakami just getting released from prison for murdering a member of a rival clan, only to learn that during his internment, the two syndicates arranged a truce. Not unlike the protagonist in Albert Camus' The Stranger, Murakami's motives for killing were vague and that life holds little value for him. At an illegal gambling parlor, he finds himself drawn to a mysterious waif-like young woman named Saeko (Mariko Kaga) who lives life from one thrill to the next. Though she seems remarkably adept at losing large sums of money, she asks Murakami to find games with larger and larger stakes. Soon they become involved in an intense mutually destructive relationship. High stakes gambling and racing her little sports car eventually grow tiresome, and Saeko becomes attracted to drugs. Instead of dope, Murakami offers to let her watch him kill a rival clan leader, describing it as the ultimate thrill. ~ Jonathan Crow, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Pale Flower (Kawaita hana)

All Critics (7)

Director Masahiro Shinoda takes lots of chances, using close-ups and off-kilter edits to deepen his characters. A jazzy, avant-garde score throws things even more off balance.

Jun 5, 2011 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Pale Flower sits comfortably as one of the darker noir films ever made

Jun 4, 2011 | Rating: 8.8/10 | Full Review…

They get no kicks from champagne.

May 16, 2011 | Rating: 7/10 | Full Review…

a lost yakuza classic, part Bob Le Flambeur, part Rebel Without a Cause, but with an ecstatic blankness all its own.

Aug 2, 2007 | Full Review…

One of the best and most powerful yakuza films ever made.

May 31, 2004 | Rating: A | Full Review…

A masterful, meticulously crafted, wry meditation on fate and love that any cinema fan will appreciate.

Mar 14, 2004 | Rating: 88/100 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Pale Flower (Kawaita hana)

a fresh, unique take on the yakuza films of that time. the characters are not atypical, but the focus of this story really is. clan rivalry and looming violence permeates the story but the heart of it is about a romanticism that never quite finds its expression. the film is about the romantic timidity of otherwise confident and assertive people. the climax is so effective as we never really find out what we thought we wanted to know about "the pale flower" of the gangster world, but we're somehow ok with that because our main character is ok with that. a great film.

danny d
danny d

Super Reviewer

*sigh* '64 not '74. in a lonely place as directed by melville and set in tokyo

Stella Dallas
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

While the French were creating the new wave movement of the 50s-60s, Japanese studios were turning out bold, fresh, new films. The yakuza drama is as old as Japanese cinema itself, but director Masahiro Shinoda joins it with expressionism and shadowy western noir themes that lean more towards fate and love than your average gangster flick. Photobucket

El Hombre Invisible
El Hombre Invisible

Super Reviewer

Pale Flower is a nicely written 1960s Japanese Yakuza gangster flick, which covers gambling, love, and murder. Everything a growing person needs.

While this is a Yakuza film involving 3 gangs, the action is non-existent. This is a slow burn of a story that follows Muraki and his chance meeting with Saeko. While it is the Muraki character that is the main focus of the film, it is Saeko that will catch most people's attention. It is her lust for intense pleasures that will freak you out. Her wicked laugh during and after each intense situation will prove that you.

Pale Flower is shot entirely in black and white and it fits right in with the story. The only flaw is that there are a few dark scenes, which can be tough to make out. The plethora of gambling scenes are addictive in the way that it makes you want to participate. All those Hanafuda cards just pull you in. "Place your bets, place your bets, place your bets ..." There is also a car race scene that shows up out of nowhere and it is quite entertaining.

The acting is calm and subtle, but it works. Ryo Ikebe and Mariko Kaga carry this one to the very end. Speaking of the very end, it is brilliantly written.

This film uses good cinematography and writing to tell a decent story about living dangerously to feel something in life. If you get the chance to see this, give it a try.

JY Skacto
JY Skacto

Super Reviewer

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