Pale Flower (Kawaita hana) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Pale Flower (Kawaita hana) Reviews

Page 1 of 3
July 28, 2015
Masahiro Shinoda's odd re-working of Camus' 'The Stranger' within the 1960's Japanese Yakuza world of vice and gambling is more style than substance.


Masao Kosugi's artful cinematography blended with Yji Takahashi and
Tru Takemitsu musical score creates an atmosphere that is more "cool" than paranoid. Less a "thriller" than an interesting "experience."

"Pale Flower" offers a great deal more than it feels like it should. Excellent.
½ December 31, 2014
One of the more unique of the yakuza movies, really offers a slice of the obsessive and lonely directioneless life of one man who becomes obsessed with this girl but then not entirely. The protagonist was particularly gripping all throughout.
November 8, 2014
Breathtaking cinematography befitting a noir of this high caliber!
January 19, 2014
Muraki has just been let out of prison for a gangland killing but finds that his boss now has a truce with the enemy gang. He shrugs it off, as his interest it taken up by a mysterious lady gambler who is bored enough by life to try anything. Muraki tags along, sort of drifting through the underworld. Masahiro Shinoda creates a stylish "new wave" environs for this tired hard-boiled yakuza to haunt, all moody high contrast B&W. The gambling dens where they play hanafuda (a sort of Japanese blackjack with wooden cards) are just parts of the void where time and money disappear. In the end, to an English-language opera by Purcell, Muraki carries out one last job, to show his lady gambler true nihilism. This film created the mould that later yakuza films would seek to fill.
November 2, 2013
How is it that I have never seen this Film Noir, Japanese New Wave masterpiece? Wow, just wow. This movie is all dark style, beautiful and deadly and great. See it! Available on Hulu Plus.
September 11, 2013
A newly-paroled Yakuza member (who served time for murder) goes into his old gambling haunts then befriends and falls in love with a mysterious female gambler. This films reminds me of Wong Kar-Wai with its beautiful cinematography and lowkey/chaste love story. It's surprisingly largely non-violent for a film centering on the Yakuza but still manages to have an aura of tension about it. Violence can explode at many minute! I wasn't completely blown away by it but it's still a worthwhile piece of work.
sanjurosamurai
Super Reviewer
July 15, 2013
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.
May 18, 2013
This is an amazing movie and I simply cannot recommend it enough for lovers of film noir and Japanese cinema.
January 19, 2013
Shinoda's gangster flick Pale Flower is riveting with intensity, an established setting, and themes of evil and death tightly wound into a perfect artistic delivery. The iconic dream sequence clearly depicts the film's artistic value at its highest.
½ December 15, 2012
A stunning example of the Japanese New Wave. A deeply psychological yakuza film ... one of the slowest burns I've ever seen of film. In a way, it's a typical film noir plot about a man becoming obsessed with a dangerous woman that brings about his downfall. The style is not what one would expect from this story. The closest comparison would be "Bob le Flambeur".
September 1, 2012
A sleek Yakuza film that begins like a dream but swiftly reveals itself as a nightmare. It is a movie about a yakuza recently released from jail named Murakami (played with practiced badassery by Ryo Ikebe) who finds himself first immediately drawn back into the world of underground, big-stakes gambling and then hypnotized by a sexy reckless gambler played by Mariko Kaga, named Saeko (sound that out; in English it's quite appropriate). Murakami is a man who takes himself very seriously, one who likes to be in control and considers himself quite capable of handling his surroundings, but there is something about these two vices- first gambling, and then this woman- that draw him to their spontaneity, their danger. The film works because of Ikebe's textured performance, one that starts out looking like a typical piece of gangster nihilism but which quickly becomes something desperate and weak; Ikebe keeps his character under veils during the first act and then unleashes a performance that emphasizes the character's limits and fears. As Murakami is sucked down a hole of chance and violence, he finds himself overwhelmed and approaching the point of no return, and the film's last act, which focuses on him trying to swim back upstream, is riveting. The best part of the film is its visuals. Shot by Masao Kosugi, the cinematography has the grace of Kubrick's early work and the invasive visual violence of some of the best noir films ever made. Each shot is full of thick artistry; the visuals are almost distractingly beautiful.
August 31, 2012
One of a handful of films I could picture Donald Westlake feeling jealous he didn't write.
November 19, 2011
Ah, the elegance of noir.

I can't believe I've put off watching some of these Japanese New Wave gangster pictures. They're great!

While the New Wave movement is often more closely associated with French cinema, Japan had it's own avant garde movement. This one pre-dates Melville's 'Le Samourai' by three years and the two have a lot in common.

A recently released yakuza returns, unceremoniously, to his former life. He betrays little emotion and says little. He is in the midst of an existential crisis. There is a great scene early on where he returns to his former lover, who lives in a clock shop. The clocks ticking in the background work like the score and building to an almost deafening crescendo which also emphasizes the ever present nature of time progressing but without progress. What is his identity? He spends the length of the film trying to figure it out. Of course, since it's noir, there's also a woman mixed up in all of this. There is also a pretty strong political allegory working here, with the protagonist representing Japan caught between two struggling powers during the height of the Cold War.

The climax (and the word was never used more appropriately than it is here) is artfully done. No sound; just music. It was so good, I had to rewind it and watch it again. Speaking of music, the soundtrack for this is great. It it's very reminiscent of Bernard Herrman's stuff which just adds to the ambiance.

This isn't as much fun as some of the campier stuff from Suzuki, but if you want a deep, complex, and (for lack of a better word) cool gangster picture, you need look no further than this.
November 1, 2011
Probably one of the better movies I've seen of late....then again i'm a big fan of noir movies. this one is especially dark....murder, gambling, drug addiction, thrill seeking to escape boredom. i can definitely see me watching this multiple times....great cinematography...this movie could ONLY be made in black and white.
October 25, 2011
?ber dark japanese noir, amazing score.
October 4, 2011
I am really struggling to come up with something that this film lacks. Incredible from start to finish.
September 16, 2011
4: My god what a dark and nihilistic film, but I suppose this is in keeping with the Japanese New Wave, although the other New Wave pictures I'm familiar with usually contain more comedy and more about the evils of America (i.e. Pigs and Battleships). One of the things that struck me most was how difficult it is to reconcile this society with that portrayed in contemporary Japanese cinema, as well as that which I am cursorily familiar with via trips to Tokyo and Okinawa. I suppose part of the problem is that it is focused on yakuza, while my real world experience and the vast majority of my cinematic experience is not. The picture also contains numerous little insights that are deftly revealed, such as that the clothes really can make the man. The emotions are contained, until they practically burst from the screen in the end, or at least it seems that way despite the fact that there is very little visual indication of this. It's all about the intensity in the eyes and the incredible score. It's as if Shinoda knew exactly what type of music, or sometimes sound effects, would most heighten the drama. There were times when I actually thought I was literally listening to the same score as "The Shining," but in the end it simply seemed to be a forerunner that perhaps inspired Kubrick. Like many a masterpiece, I wouldn't have dreamed of giving Pale Flower 4 stars until the final 10 minutes or so, but it wraps up so wonderfully and powerfully that it's hard not be a bit awed. I love that we are essentially given no resolution and no respite from the cold. In the end, everything is in vain and nothing is of any importance. This is about as dark as it gets.
September 12, 2011
Shinoda's dark, gritty, yet dreamy/nightmarish "Pale Flower" seems like the average Yakuza film being churned out at the time, but the noir-influenced story, with a beautiful femme fatale being a compulsive and manipulative gambler played by Mariko Kaga absolutely steals the show. And even if you don't understand the gambling rules in the movie (I don't), you'll still be mesmerized by it. Combine this with lots of experimental moves by Shinoda, making it 'unreleasable' according to execs, but eventually proved wrong when an audience actually found the movie.
½ August 18, 2011
Possibly one of the coolest Japanese noir I have seen so far. The cinematography in Japanese New Wave films tends to look similar in style, but Pale Flower stood out due to its brilliant lighting. The whiteness on the faces of the characters against the contrast of the shadows is just magnificent. The editing is quick, energetic and full of life. Believe it or not this movie actually moves. Of course, without the pathos and charisma of our main hero, this movie wouldn't have worked as it did in so many levels. I should also mention that the ending of the film is one of the most brilliant I have seen in because it's a great example of ambiguity versus clarity.
½ August 14, 2011
Took me somewhere I didn't expect, and I love it for that. This is very pure noir, doomed-love style, reminded me mostly of I Am Waiting, another Japanese noir, turns out written by same writer, Shintaro Ishihara, hence the flavor. I read article with disk mentioning link with Baudelaire, and it's understandable; this is poetic, evocative, sentimental, sweet, lovely, and anguished. The cinematography is layered shadows, haunting faces and vivid imagery. The soundtrack is Takemitsu peppered with jazz-bop, and so cool. One of my favorites ever, although seen only once. It requires second viewing, I think, and I look forward to watching it again when I'm in the mood for haunted urban jazz gangster-gambler noir shot in slick and gritty 1960s Tokyo.
Page 1 of 3