While it's Kurosawa's samurai movies that have made him famous, I've found that lately when I think of my favorite Kurosawa movies I'm turning to his work set in contemporary Japan. There's something so raw, immediate, energetic and emotional about it. This is also a good companion piece to watch alongside Ikiru in the way that it deals with themes of life, death, and sacrifice. Kurosawa's direction hadn't reached the perfection it would later on, but the way he captures post-war Japan is great stuff.
Set in the seed of post-war Japan, the dynamism of Mifune and Shimura is here conceived: Shimura the hardened M.D., Mifune the young hoodlum whom Shimura’s old dog repentantly sees his younger self in, and whose invincibility is shattered when diagnosed with TB; his affliction an analogy for the crime and corruption that too have infested his life. These two brash, stubborn men as the dirty, stinking, drunken angels; chance for deliverance for both. Solid study, dexterously shot - a stronger entry in Kurosawa’s early period.
The brashness of the two main characters far exceeds that of any Noir Kurosawa may have been trying to imitate. United by their flaws, the two individuals are entrapped in a philosophical battle neither can escape. "Hmm... I've never had a patient as rough as you." The physical nature of the characters is so impressive in this film. Both are brutish, blunt and demand respect; one empowered by his status and the other by his rejection of those same structures. Every line is delivered with voice, body and spirit. "A lousy band can make the blues sound like a tango." This is the good stuff.
This was a class A movie with incredible setting, story, and especially the soundtrack and acting. The swamps and grittiness of the city really has a strong connect with the should of a Yakuza and does very well to set the tone. The soundtrack feels very organic as most of it is either from music boxes playing in the room or a man with a guitar outside the house, and as always Toshiro Mifune is impeccable. Great Film
Special for being the film that started it all---the greatest collaboration in film history.The setting,where children play in dirty swamps and streets,is perfect to showcase the ugliness and corruption of gangsters and others. The amazing Toshiro Mifune conveys so much,even with small gestures.
"A dog's a dog... It can't be changed" is one of doctor Shimura's perscriptions about the criminals in this ballad of two alcoholic men. How to be a part of society is no not matter of class on the operating table of director Kurosawa, as two falling angels - a doctor and a gangster struggles to live in a society as muddy as the swamps sourrounding them. A film with this kind of sense of responsibility is rare.
A detailed character study of 2 terribly broken men. Both become vessels for dogmas perpetuated throughout time, clashed together by a broken, rotting world. And yet this movie reeks of optimism. Both archetypes are progressive in outlook, yet defeating in action. Excellent commentary on the life of a Doctor, selfishness and the free individual. "It's not just TB. A rational approach is the best medicine for life."
This is the one they all wish they could make (Tarantino, to even Scorsese.) Mifune is wonderful in this, as is Shimura. Some of the two shots are very innovative, as is the final battle sequence and death of Mifune's character. To call it noir is underselling the weight of the story. A masterpiece. The only thing I was disappointed in was the crap restoration job done by Criterion. They really should try again...
Drunken Angel was pretty good but it didn't blow me away. Not my most memorable Kurosawa viewing but it had some great moments and the swamp imagery was fantastic. Kurosawa's lesser works are still better than most directors' masterpieces. Like getting a flat and getting lucky in the same day...