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The Bad Sleep Well (Criterion Collection)

Toshir˘ Mifune , Masayuki Mori , Akira Kurosawa    Unrated   DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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The Bad Sleep Well (Criterion Collection) + Drunken Angel [Import] + Stray Dog (The Criterion Collection)
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Product Description

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.

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The Bad Sleep Well tells the story of corruption at the highest levels of Japanese business and its tragic consequences. Though flawed by a tedious introductory sequence and by an ending that seems out of sync with the story, it is a fascinating movie and the middle part is especially exciting.

Japanese legend Toshiro Mifune plays Koichi Nishi, the seemingly stoic bridegroom who is trying to get ahead by marrying the boss's daughter, Kieko (Kyoko Kagawa), who was crippled as a girl. The bride's brother, in a shocking display, exposes the groom's motives during his wedding toast and threatens his new brother-in-law with death if he disappoints his sister. But Nishi is not who we think. He was born the illegitimate son of the man who Kieko's father, Iwabuchi (Maysayuki Mori), manipulated into suicide. Now Nishi wants revenge for his father's death. As Nishi slowly destroys Iwabuchi's life, he makes the fatal error of falling in love with his wife, who already loves him. Their unconsummated marriage stands between these two like a palpable pillar of stone. But just when we think the stone has been tossed aside by love, Iwabuchi finds out who his son-in-law really is.

Shot in black and white, this film falls just short of being brilliant. Mifune is amazing in his portrayal of this complex man who lets his father's past destroy his own future, and Maysayuki Mori's performance as the evil Iwabuchi is understated but nonetheless chilling. --Luanne Brown --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best Hamlet adaptations March 10 2007
Format:DVD
After viewing Ran my initial reaction was simple awe. I had never before seen such a stunning epic, and never had the story of King Lear been adapted so poetically and viscerally. There has not been a film since that has come close to the way I perceived Ran, I was simply blown away.

After viewing a few more Kurosawa pictures I came upon one entitled 'Throne of Blood'. While I felt it was defiantly one of Kurosawa's stronger pictures, it also seemed to lack the Shakespearian atmosphere that Ran had. I liked it, but felt it was closer to The Seven Samurai as oppose to Ran.

Then, later still, I came upon The Bad Sleep Well. I expected something similar to Throne of Blood, with Kurosawa's 50s-60s atmosphere rather then his 80s-90s atmosphere. Well it turned out that I was wrong. The Bad Sleep Well is easily Kurosawa's most underrated picture, overshadowed by Yojimbo & Sanjuro afterward, and The Hidden Fortress before. The Bad Sleep Well however, does not take the same ambiance as those pictures, rather it shows a flash of Kurosawa's elderly genius from such pictures as Kagemusha and Ran(not to undermine his early genius, its just that the film feels much like one of his later pictures). I won't bother going into detail on the story, as most are already familiar with Shakespeare's Hamlet, and American film-noir; but what I will tell you however, is how well it adapts to the story(s), and that its narrative really flows at a great pace.

The Bad Sleep Well features a great performance by Toshiro Mifune, playing the Hamlet character in a very interesting way, similar in some ways to Laurence Olivier's 1948 version. His performance is what steals the show; although I thought there were some interesting supporting roles, none really stand up to his sheer intensity.
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Format:VHS Tape
This film is really unique (even for Kurosawa) in that it captures all of the mystery, suspense, and angst of a noir, while maintaining the very same majestic gravitas as *Seven Samurai*, *Throne of Blood*, *Ran* or any of Kurosawa's great medieval epics.
Indeed much of Kurosawa's best work carries a highly distinctive and supremely confident muscular swagger which can be found here in the stirring (and rather addictive) musical motif, the altogether patient and very deliberate pacing, and the seemingly effortless transitions he makes between the tragic and the comic.
*The Bad Sleep Well* often gets described as a variation on *Hamlet*. The key word here is "variation" (rather than "version" or "adaptation"), for while Kurosawa might have begun with Shakespeare, the final products really don't turn out to be in any sense all that similar. There is no Gertrude, no Rozencrantz and Guildenstern, let alone any gravediggers (just to name a few), and there is very little structural resemblance between the stories (inasmuch as *Hamlet* can be said to have any sort of structure). For example, the finale doesn't conclude with virtually *everybody* getting killed--after all, in Kurosawa's framework the bad sleep well (and consequently live happily ever after). Also, Nishi's character is much less ambiguous than Hamlet's; while he may at certain junctures fail to take his plan for revenge the entire way, he doesn't come close to sharing the overall indecision and confusion of Hamlet. But these sorts of differences actually make the complex interrelationship between the two works all the more intriguing and thought-provoking.
The film's story might eventually become "clear as a bell," but it certainly does not start out that way.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Based on Hamlet July 12 2003
Format:VHS Tape
Most people who watch Akira Kurosawa's films don't seem to read much Shakespere. Of course, I may be wrong. However, it hardly seems so because only one of the reviews bothers to mention that this particular film is based upon Hamlet, a work by Shakespere. This is the case, really, for most of Akira's films. Throughout his life, he often drew inspiration from the ideas and themes expressed throughout Shakespere's works. This film is hardly tedious, though it requires as much attention as would witnessing a play by shakespere. The good part about this film is, you don't have to understand the old English that Shakespere used in writing his plays. I watched it when I was only 13 years old and understood it perfectly. Not only that, I found myself enthralled and inspired by it. It's a wonderful and simple indroduction to the works of Shakespere for anyone interested in reading any of his works. The Japanese sensibilities and cultural nuances attached to this film only add to the lushness of it and broaden the observer's experience. It shows the observer that the themes and ideas of Shakespere's stories are international and timeless. A masterpiece in any language. However, I would not recommend this film for the common movie goer expecting a "cheap thrill". This story is no "Titanic" or "Legally Blonde". It has only good actors a fine plot and an excellent director.It is cinema gourmet not fast food.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Rare combination of style and substance May 9 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
The Bad Sleeps Well is near-perfection: from the showy introduction of the wedding banquet to the riveting conclusion of BAD-man Iwabuchi's (Mori in an almost unrecognisable role) phonecall. The impression here is corruption knows no end --- whichever way you go on the hierarchy of the power structure.
Most of the "Kurosawa familiy" of actors are here, but Akira Nishimura as Shirai brings a touch of humor (perhaps a perverse kind on the viewer's part) to his torture sequence. Takeshi Kato also gets to express himself more than his role in High and Low allows. Much of the film has a "Western" overtone - down to rich playboy Tatsuo's game of hunting, and the interior of the ruined factory that's reminiscent of dungeons in WWII films...oh boy. You won't forget Nishii's (Mifune in restrained mode) whistling - masterfully used here for characterization and musical counterpoint.
"He's no man! He's an official!"
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars The worst subtitles awards goes to...
I can't believe the other reviewers were reviewing the same dvd. This is a great movie, don't get me wrong. It's Kurasawa, after all. Read more
Published on Feb. 20 2005 by James Field
3.0 out of 5 stars Mildly interesting film for die-hard Kurosawa fans only.
Unless you are a die-hard Kurosawa fan or an Ed McBain fan, this film is not a great one. Nowhere near the brilliance of other Kurosawa modern-day films like High & Low, Stray Dog... Read more
Published on April 15 2003 by Vinny Mac
2.0 out of 5 stars Japanese artfilm-false buy??
I thought-someone told me that-Ed McBain was the writer of the short story,where the movie was based on.That's why I bought it. Read more
Published on March 1 2002 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars One of AK's best
It is unfortunate that Luanne Brown's editorial review of The Bad Sleep Well is so negative. The beginning is no more "tedious" or "flawed" than the ending is... Read more
Published on Nov. 30 2001 by Dax
5.0 out of 5 stars Deceit and betrayal in the world of the salaryman
"The Bad Sleep Well" is a great movie. Imagine taking the major characters of "Hamlet," and casting them in a new plot. Read more
Published on Oct. 31 2001 by Zack Davisson
5.0 out of 5 stars Truely a 'great' movie
This represents Kurosawa at the height of his game. Everything 'works' in this movie! The acting as usual is fabulous. The cinematography is great. The music fits perfectly. Read more
Published on Oct. 15 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Not so sweet revenge!
It amazes me how contempory Kurosawa's movies are. The plot and characters in this film are as believable today as they were forty years ago. Boy, does this film run hot and cold! Read more
Published on Aug. 18 2001 by Penny N. Vilela
5.0 out of 5 stars What can I say? See It!
There really were cover-up suicides by government officials at the time this movie was made. So this movie is also a sort of social commentary; the only such movie by Kurosawa. Read more
Published on June 25 1999 by Hitoshi Noguchi
5.0 out of 5 stars Please don't miss this film!
Amazingly, there are three (count 'em) early Kurasawa's on my all-time top twenty list of films, _Stray Dog_, _High and Low_ and _The Bad Sleep Well_. A classic thriller. Read more
Published on Jan. 22 1999
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