Stray Dog is an intense criminal story that examines the psychology of the characters as in compares the similarities between criminals and detectives. These similarities are balanced on a thin line based on choice, which Kurosawa dissects studiously through the camera lens. Kurosawa's investigation of the character's psychology creates a spiraling suspense that is enhanced through subtle surprises and brilliant cinematography. The camera use often displays shots through thin cloths, close ups, and new camera angles, which also makes the film aesthetically appealing. When Kurosawa brings together camera work and cast performance, among other cinematic aspects, he leaves the audience with a brilliantly suspenseful criminal drama, which leaves much room for introspection and retrospection.
Amid its intensely graphic buildup of the specious complications of the plot (which is achieved in true Kurosawa form through brilliant blends of images and sounds) the movie manages to couch messages of social and philosophical significance.
An incredible atmospheric combination: of neo-noir and a murky mordant comedy. Highly recommended, if you can digest some mildly slow-paced scenes and black and white print.
Regarding the Criterion DVD, the image quality is really no better than a VHS tape. Occasionally scenes are quite dark or the picture is striped with dark lines. The DVD menu page is too dark and it was almost impossible to read the options. As usual, Criterion offers no subtitle options beyond English. And the price is tad lower, if still too high. But at least they have made it available.
--New high-definition digital transfer, with restored image and sound. (Note: Non-anamorphic video.)
--Audio commentary by Stephen Prince, author of The Warrior?s Camera: The Cinema of Akira Kurosawa
--Akira Kurosawa: It is Wonderful to Create, a 32-minute documentary on the making of Stray Dog
--A booklet featuring essays by film critics Terrence Rafferty and Chris Fujiwara and an excerpt from Kurosawa's autobiography, Something Like an Autobiography, in which he discusses the production of Stray Dog
--New and improved English subtitle translation
--Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition
This is gonna be hot.