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Drunken Angel (The Criterion Collection)

Takashi Shimura , Toshirô Mifune , Akira Kurosawa    PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)   DVD
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 42.99
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Drunken Angel (The Criterion Collection) + The Bad Sleep Well (Criterion Collection) + Stray Dog (The Criterion Collection)
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Product Description

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Upon its release in 1948, Drunken Angel was hailed in Japan as Akira Kurosawa's directorial breakthrough, comparable to Kubrick's Paths of Glory in the way it catapulted Kurosawa into a higher level of artistic achievement. Kurosawa himself noted, "In this picture I was finally myself. It was my picture. I was doing it and nobody else."

It is indeed an important, vital film, confidently conceived and expertly executed, illuminating themes that would dominate the finest films in Kurosawa's exceptional career. The setting is a rancid, jerry-built section of a postwar city, where a filthy, disease-ridden pond functions as a physical threat and also as the film's central symbol of decay. It's in this hardscrabble environment that a brash young gangster (Toshiro Mifune, in the role that made him a star) visits an alcoholic doctor (Takashi Shimura) to have a bullet removed from his hand. The doctor discovers that the hot-tempered thug is also doomed by tuberculosis, seen here as the physical manifestation of the gangster's moral decay. The doctor is himself diseased by his drinking, and as these clashing men struggle to make some kind of difference in their pathetic lives (spurned by the return from prison of a ruthless yakuza boss), Kurosawa makes unlikely heroes of them both--men who undergo a personal transformation in a vile and violent world.

Drunken Angel is a transitional film for Japanese cinema and especially for Kurosawa; it offers a vivid glimpse of postwar life (both rotten and restoring), and signals the full blossoming of Kurosawa's talent. And while the title role belongs to Shimura (so memorably poignant in Kurosawa's later masterpiece, Ikiru), the film belongs to the forceful presence of Mifune, whose vitality touches nearly every scene of this timeless and powerful drama. --Jeff Shannon


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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hong Kong version March 18 2010
By Gary Fuhrman TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This review and rating are for the Mei Ah DVD of Drunken Angel (or Alcoholic Angel, as the English subtitles onscreen have it). I've seen the Criterion version, and the difference in quality between the two is pretty well reflected in the price difference. The transfer here is rather murky by comparison, and many of the subtitles are unintentionally funny, but this is such a great film that it's well worth the price. The murkiness is even appropriate for the postwar slum setting of the film. Of course if you're a serious Kurosawa fan you'll want to get or rent the Criterion ... too bad they're so expensive in Canada.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting Tale Feb. 6 2004
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
A Gripping and haunting tale...Drunk Angel shows the various level human spirit can descend, ascend to and then back again. That even in the worst of us there can be some good. A doctor with a drinking problem tries to save a gangster (Toshiro Mifune) from TB and himself. Along the way a warped on and off friendship develops between the two. As the gangster stuggles with TB he also fights with the urge to make a name for himself as well as defend the only people who ever cared for him. As one reviewer puts it.........who really is the drunk angel?" Buy this movie and decide for yourselves. As usual great performance by Toshiro Mifune and a tale to remember by Kurosawa.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another Akira Kurosawa masterpiece Dec 16 2002
Format:VHS Tape
Toshiro Mifune stars as a brash yakuza gangster whose bellicose bullying of a meek, alcoholic local doctor lead to the discovery that he is actually dying of tuberculosis. Mifune's subsequent emotional transformation brings out the best in his ever-alluring acting style. Interesting early glimpse at the Japanses underworld, and another great film by director Akira Kurosawa.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant character study Nov. 1 2001
Format:VHS Tape
The key to "Drunken Angel" is the two main characters, both flawed and somewhat nobel. Mifune is Matsunaga, a powerful gangster coming to grips with his own weakness. He has tuberculosis. Shimura plays Dr. Sanada, a good hearted doctor who's weakness for alcohol has left him in the lower depths of society. When Mifune arrives to be treated for a gunshot wound, Shimura sees something in him, and attempts to treat him for his TB.
This uneasy friendship, and the balance of the two characters as they get to know each other, is the strength of "Drunken Angel." Both performances are gripping. The plot involving a gang boss released from jail, allows the two characters to develop with each other. The direction is tight and controlled.
This is easily a masterpiece, from one of cinema's greatest directors.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant character study Nov. 1 2001
Format:VHS Tape
The key to "Drunken Angel" is the two main characters, both flawed and somewhat nobel. Mifune is Matsunaga, a powerful gangster coming to grips with his own weakness. He has tuberculosis. Shimura plays Dr. Sanada, a good hearted doctor who's weakness for alcohol has left him in the lower depths of society. When Mifune arrives to be treated for a gunshot wound, Shimura sees something in him, and attempts to treat him for his TB.
This uneasy friendship, and the balance of the two characters as they get to know each other, is the strength of "Drunken Angel." Both performances are gripping. The plot involving a gang boss released from jail, allows the two characters to develop with each other. The direction is tight and controlled.
This is easily a masterpiece, from one of cinema's greatest directors.
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