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also known as Yoidore tenshi

Drunken Angel1948

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  • 4.4
In this powerful early noir from the great Akira Kurosawa, Toshiro Mifune bursts onto the screen as a volatile, tubercular criminal who strikes up an unlikely relationship with Takashi Shimura's jaded physician. Set in and around the muddy swamps and back alleys of postwar Tokyo, DRUNKEN ANGEL is an evocative, moody snapshot of a treacherous time and place, featuring one of the director’s most memorably violent climaxes.

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Member Reviews (2)

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top reviewer

Much more than a B-movie style, gangster melodrama, this eloquent film tells a story of how people from from the fringes of society, literally from the sewage, somehow find a way to try and help each other, even when the situation is hopeless.

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top reviewer

The cinematic world shared a singular, unofficial vision after World War II. It was a vision of disillusionment, confusion, and restlessness. The War was over, but the world was immersed in shadows of uncertainty…the shadows of Film Noir. These shadows cling to the New York skyscrapers of “The Naked City”, the cobblestone street of Vienna in “The Third Man,” and the ruins of Tokyo in Akira Kurosawa’s “Drunken Angel.”

Kurosawa presents a crime story amid the rubble and the debris. Yet there is a silent, nameless presence that casts a pall on this devastated landscape, and that’s the American military forces occupying Japan. You never see them, they are never mentioned directly, but they are there. In a land where ghosts and evil spirits are not taken lightly, this invisible autocrat is felt throughout the film.

It’s a story set on the streets, but there are also tones of some ancient dark fable. Kurosawa casts a bit of black magic on the screen, and his familiar is a dynamic, youthful Toshiro Mifune. Lean and hungry-looking, Mifine brings a dangerous, swaggering energy to the screen. He burns with magnesium intensity.

Kurosawa’s vision and Mifune’s energy combine in the fantastic dream sequence towards the end of the film, propelling the tale into a strange dark region…a Kabuki Noir that borders on supernatural horror. “Drunken Angel” is a master filmmaker making his stand after the chaos of the War, embracing the shadows, yet prepared to move out of them and march towards whatever light the future might bring.