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Drunken Angel (The Criterion Collection)

32 customer reviews

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(Nov 27, 2007)
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Criterion Collection
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Editorial Reviews

In this powerful early noir from the great Akira Kurosawa, Toshiro Mifune bursts onto the screen as a volatile, tuberculosis-infected criminal who strikes up an unlikely, unhealthy 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 volatile time and place, featuring one of the director s most memorably violent climaxes.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Takashi Shimura, Toshirô Mifune, Reisaburo Yamamoto, Michiyo Kogure, Chieko Nakakita
  • Directors: Akira Kurosawa
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Japanese
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: November 27, 2007
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000VARC3C
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,401 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Drunken Angel (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By James Steve Robles on September 20, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I am biased, I'll tell you that up front. Kurosawa is my favorite director. Even if he were not, I would still love this film.
Takashi Shimura (the head samurai in "Seven Samurai") plays an alcoholic doctor in a dumpy urban part of post-war Tokyo. Toshiro Mifune plays a small-time gangster who initially visits the doctor regarding a bullet wound. The doctor discovers that the gangster also has tuberculosis, and stubbornly tries to treat it. I say stubbornly because the gangster tries to act macho about the disease. The two charactors are both so strongly portrayed that the doctor's attempt to treat the disease and the gangster's faked but desperate non-chalance makes their relationship a struggle; at times they actually come to blows over the doctor's persistence. The doctor, I think, sees something of himself in the gangster; someone on the edge of society, someone with flaws, someone with unfulfilled dreams. The doctor wants the gangster to survive, and the gangster desperately wants to survive, but his "toughness" keeps him from admitting that he wants to live.
In any event, my wife and I fall in love with the doctor everytime that we see this film. He is the better angel of our nature, scolding and caring. Watch the film; you too will fall in love with it.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 20, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
When I first saw this film, it took my breath away. Mifune's performance is absolutely overpowering, and the whole structure and pace of the film is just right. It is one of my favorite of Kurosawa's films, and the fact that it is now finally being released to the public thrills me. It has not been very available and is probably the most underappreciated of Kurosawa's masterpieces.
Drunken Angel is a contemporary tale of the squalor of postwar Japanese society, and of an angel shining his light through the darkness to help those few he can. This film introduces for the first time many themes, symbols, and ideas that recieve their consummate expression in Kurosawa's later films, such as Ikiru, and even beyond, and around which Kurosawa's entire body of work revolves.
We see in the gangster the first lead performance of Toshiro Mifune, one of the greatest actors ever to honor the cinema with his presence, and in the doctor the first truly great performance by Takashi Shimura, the most reliable and talented actor in the Kurosawa group. This role also helps to contribute in subtle ways to his greatest performance, that of Watanabe in Ikiru.
And of Kurosawa himself, what can I say, he has once again left me at a loss for words. The end fight sequence with the mirror and the paint is pure cinematic genius.
So this film is a definite must see, not only for fans of Kurosawa, but for the entire world. It has my highest recommendation.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Zack Davisson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 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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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Penny N. Vilela on July 27, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
Unsentimental, gripping morality tale of Japanese society after WW2. This is a simple story with the sharpness and balance of a finely crafted sword! Mifune and Shimura play off each other beautifully. Who is the drunken angel? We are told it is Shimura. But..... as Donald Richie says in his book on Kurosawa, Mifune is also an angel, though of a darker breed. Vivid images remain with you long after the film is over and respect for all those involved increases with each viewing!
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Format: DVD
How do you choose to live? Dr. Sanada (Takashi Shimura), a drunk who has made some poor choices, has chosen brusque hope over despair. Matsunaga (Toshiro Mifune) is a tough, handsome yakuza making his choices, too, and it turns out he is afraid of hope.

Sanada, a rough-tongued drunk, is a doctor whose patients are as poor as the Tokyo slum they all live in. He tries as best he can to deal with tuberculosis, which is insidious and deadly. A 17-year-old schoolgirl just may survive because of him. When Matsunaga shows up at Sanada's tiny office with a bullet wound in his hand, Sanada fixes him up and immediately suspects Matsunaga has tuberculosis. That's not a good thing for a yakuza, especially a man like Matsunaga. "That girl who just left has more guts than you'll ever have," Sanada shouts at Matsunaga. "She's looking her illness straight in the eye. You don't have a fraction of her guts. You're still scared of the dark." It gets worse. Sanada eventually persuades Matsunaga to begin treatment. When Matsunaga's old gang boss, a vindictive and cruel man, gets out of prison and takes over again, Matsunaga is drawn back to his earlier choices. As Matsunaga's illness worsens, he's isolated and humiliated, yet the relationship deepens between the young, sick yakuza and the older, wiser doctor,

What does Sanada see in the tough, violent and frightened-of-death Matsunaga...a son there never was?...himself making mistakes when he was younger?...a vulnerable human being who, whatever his crimes and attitudes, requires help?...or just a man he might somehow convince to fight against the odds? "It's not just his lungs that are bad," says Sanada. "It's like he's sick to the core. He acts tough and swaggers around, but in his heart I know he's unbearably lonely.
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