A young executive hunts down his father’s killer in director Akira Kurosawa’s scathing The Bad Sleep Well. Continuing his legendary collaboration with actor Toshiro Mifune, Kurosawa combines elements of Hamlet and American film noir to chilling effect in exposing the corrupt boardrooms of postwar corporate Japan. —The Criterion Collection
The son of an army officer, Kurosawa studied art before gravitating to film as a means of supporting himself. He served seven years as an assistant to director Kajiro Yamamoto before he began his own directorial career with Sanshiro Sugata (1943), a film about the 19th century struggle for supremacy between adherents of judo and jujitsu that so impressed the military government, he was prevailed upon to make a sequel (Sanshiro Sugata Part Two). Following the end of World War II, Kurosawa’s career gathered speed with a series of films that cut across all genres, from crime thrillers to period dramas. Among the latter, his Rashomon (1951) became the first postwar Japanese film to find wide favor with Western audiences. It was Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai (1954), however, that made the largest impact of any of his movies outside of Japan. Although heavily cut for its original release, this three-hour-plus medieval action drama, shot with painstaking… read more
Here Kurosawa is clear: the only thing worse than the press is corporate greed. The men in this film are willing to die for their company. Blind faith, even in family, is wrong. The protagonist must get his hands dirty in order to do what is right. I wish someone was brave enough to tell this story today. Interesting to watch where insert shots are used. A lot of solid 3 & 4 person shots. "A man with a full stomach doesn't bother with snacks."
Kurosawa’s corporate thriller, rooted in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, whiffs at something rotten in the state of Japan. A jarring and evocative portrayal of corruption in the newly-industrialised, post-war economy, galvanised by Kurosawa’s roving camera along with chilling performances.
Nowhere near as good as Kurosawa's other corporate noir High and Low, The Bad Sleep Well boasts some terrific scenes but never quite picks up the pace. It's almost painfully slow in parts, and could have done with an editor. Toshiro Mifune is cast against type, and I'm not sure if it quite works. He's never allowed to cultivate much of a presence. None the less some amazing stuff here, and, hey, it's Kurosawa!