Red Angel (1999)
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Critic Reviews for Red Angel
Audience Reviews for Red Angel
I have nothing bad to say; it's harrowing, tragic, and well-made. Nishi has a complex sexuality and she's not merely a figure of exploitation (once again we've got rape in a Japanese movie, but at least it's not being played for kinky kicks). But it didn't move me in any way. I didn't see much point to it. Ichikawa's anti-war messages are stronger, Mizoguchi's work is more elegant, Suzuki is more subversive. Not a bad film, but not a great one, and certainly not as distinctive as Blind Beast.
A harrowing look at one nurse's experiences during the Sino-Japanese war in 1939. There is a stark contrast between the beautiful, tender moments shared by the protagonists, and the scenes that depict the fruitless, senseless violence of war, and it certainly shows us both the best and worst of humanity in a very powerful way. Ayako Wakao and Shinsuke Ashida deliver impressive performances with a wide range of emotions, making their characters very human and sympathetic. The unflinching depiction of the horrors and brutality of war may be hard to stomach, but there's an honesty to it, and it's not necessarily about shock value. Still, there was something about this movie, perhaps in the editing or pacing, that kept me from becoming completely immersed in it, so it didn't affect me as strongly as it should have.
"Red Angel" starts in 1939 as Sakura Nishi(Ayako Wakao), a 24-year old nurse, is assigned to an army field hospital in Tientsin where the head nurse(Ranko Akagi) informs her that the patients either have tuberculosis or mental problems. If it is the latter, they are malingering and simply do not want to return to the front.(Well, can you blame them?) One such patient, Sakamoto(Jotaro Senba), rapes Sakura one night. The next time Sakura sees him, it is at a hospital close to the front and Sakamato is gravely wounded. She pleads with Dr. Okabe(Shinsuke Ashida) to perform an infusion. He agrees to as long as she goes to his room later... "Red Angel" is a devastating and graphic antiwar movie that is filmed mostly in the shadows. In a war where the medical personnel work days with very little medicine at their disposal, it is important to view the soldiers as men, not as disposable items to be thrown away when they are used up. Sakura seeks to save the life of Sakamato, a man she hates, because no one deserves to suffer like that. Along the same lines, the movie takes a well-aimed shot at the sexual objectification of women during wartime. And it is here that the movie surprises the most with its erotic and kinky imagery mixed in with the brutal reality, as Sakura seeks to reclaim her sexuality.
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