This Japanese film noir was one of director Akira Kurosawa's earliest films, starring (a very young!) Toshiro Mifune as a police detective whose pistol has been stolen and fenced on the black market. The rookie cop carries a samurai-like sense of personal responsibility for the crimes that are committed with his gun following his lapse in vigilance; this sense of honor is not shared by his fellow officers, who hold a more pragmatic, modern view of things. Slow moving in the first half, the film picks up steam at the end, climaxing in as grim a showdown as any American movie of the same era. What takes so long is Kurosawa's presentation of pre-corporate, postwar Japan, which, with it's drug use, prostitution and ramshackle, peeling plaster slums is very different from the ultramodern, sleek image of Japan today. The transition into an American-oriented popular culture is extensively explored, from the jazz music and Hawaaian tunes that flood through the streets to a (somewhat belaboured) day at the baseball field. Takashi Shimura, who later played the philosophically-minded leader of "The Seven Samurai," also stars, as the veteran detective who shows Mifune the ropes. Kurosawa devotees will want to check this out -- it's worth hanging in there for the plot to develop.