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Drunken Angel (The Criterion Collection) (1959)

Takashi Shimura , Toshirô Mifune , Akira Kurosawa  |  PG-13 |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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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: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000VARC3C
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #168,446 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Drunken Angel (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features


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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Absolute Beauty 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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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant character study 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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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First Masterpiece 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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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Scathing Commentary 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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A window on postwar Japan January 22, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
The period of time after the end of the Second World War, and the beginning of the great economic miracle for Japan was one that is a mystery to most westerners. Living in the poverty left by the war, crime flourished, the black market thrived, and those "angels" like doctors and other professionals not lost in the war took on a new role, often serving the denizens of TB- and infection-ridden neighborhoods for little pay and nearly no respect. The interplay of Kurasawa's favorite pair (Mifune and Shimura) provides a tense and gripping story of life in a nation desperately trying to pull itself out from the throes of war. Filmed in glorious black and white, it retains much of the stark interest of other postwar films, such as Stray Dog, arguably one of Kurosawa's best.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Kurosawa hits his stride
Akira Kurosawa's marvelous 1948 social problem movie, Drunken Angel has to be seen for many reasons. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Film Buff
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Great, But Worth A Look Nonetheless.
Film = barely three stars; restoration = 3-1/2 stars. Ignoring the background struggle that apparently went on with occupation censors two years into the occupation (circa 1947),... Read more
Published 4 months ago by William F. Flanigan Jr.
3.0 out of 5 stars The Mei Ah (chinese copy) release of Drunken Angel
I'm not reviewing the movie here, just the dvd quality of the Mei Ah release for those that are interested ( it's blue, has Chinese script and a cheesy picture of a young Toshirô... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Bill
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie
A great movie about a very interesting and believable character. If you like Japanese movies I'm sure you'll like this one too.
Published 8 months ago by Dominique Huffman
4.0 out of 5 stars A hidden gem
Drunken Angel is a film noir directed by the great Japanese auteur Akira Kurosawa. It tells the story of an alcoholic doctor in post WWII Tokyo who strikes up an unlikely... Read more
Published 10 months ago by B. Adducchio
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite film
Great movie, I wasn't expecting much. Great writing and great scenery. I am not much of an b&w film watcher, so it was weird to see that some of the scenes were shot outdoors
Published 11 months ago by V.
2.0 out of 5 stars Drunken boring
A rather self-serving, cold hearted, alcoholic doctor gets bored with his dull life and decides to help a small time thief and hoodlum. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Bartok Kinski
5.0 out of 5 stars The great noir of Kurosawa
One of the best noir films. Gorgeous filmmaking. A period of Kurosawa's that is important to see--the early personal noir stories.
Published 13 months ago by Sova
5.0 out of 5 stars Grit, dirt and boogie woogie!
This story of an immediately post-war Japan is an incredibly scratched movie with a fuzzy sounding soundtrack. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Old movie fan
4.0 out of 5 stars Shimura, Mifune, and Kurosawa - poor bedside manners, consumption in a...
On an international scale, I don't know that there's a cinematic collaboration more celebrated or relevant than that between director Akira Kurosawa and actor Toshiro Mifune. Read more
Published on September 10, 2012 by H. Bala
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