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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars YOU WILL BE AMAZED!!
This is outstanding! A personal favourite of mine i must admit. This is a gem, but not a well known one. I've always felt that this is one of the most over looked of Kurosawa's films. WHY? i don't know, but if you get the chance, buy it or see it, you will not be sorry.
A young Mifune plays a detective that has his gun stolen from him. The quest for its retrieval is...
Published on 1 Feb 2002

versus
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Police Procedural. Kurosawa style
Stray Dog gets off to a surprisingly slack start, not helped by some utterly redundant narration that repeats what we have heard in the previous scene and will see in the next. Because it’s Kurosawa, some might ascribe some higher purpose to it, but since he immediately abandons it, it seems more a lack of confidence than design. At other times he seems to be overly...
Published on 6 Jan 2006 by Trevor Willsmer


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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars YOU WILL BE AMAZED!!, 1 Feb 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Stray Dog [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This is outstanding! A personal favourite of mine i must admit. This is a gem, but not a well known one. I've always felt that this is one of the most over looked of Kurosawa's films. WHY? i don't know, but if you get the chance, buy it or see it, you will not be sorry.
A young Mifune plays a detective that has his gun stolen from him. The quest for its retrieval is long and painful for the young detective, made even more so by the news that gun has been used in several murder cases. The hunt increases, with the final minutes of the film reaching a climactic high that is unmatched by any other film made since. The hotel and train station scene fifteen minutes before the end is a piece of cinema heaven. It is pure, pure genius.
You will enjoy!!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Police Procedural. Kurosawa style, 6 Jan 2006
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Stray Dog [1949] [DVD] (DVD)
Stray Dog gets off to a surprisingly slack start, not helped by some utterly redundant narration that repeats what we have heard in the previous scene and will see in the next. Because it’s Kurosawa, some might ascribe some higher purpose to it, but since he immediately abandons it, it seems more a lack of confidence than design. At other times he seems to be overly in love with his footage: there’s not a duff shot in the wildly overlong poverty montage of Toshiro Mifune going undercover as a vagrant, but it’s hard to justify the seven minutes given over to the scene.
Yet the film gradually exerts a grip as it becomes increasingly clear that Kurosawa’s intent is not just to deliver a thriller but also a movie dealing with the effect of crime on its victims and the dehumanising effect on both those who commit it and those charged with retribution, as rookie cop Mifune takes his first steps down the road that will inevitably lead to the death of sympathy and empathy. For all his western influences (not least a music score that constantly threatens to turn into Warren and Dubin’s 'Remember My Forgotten Man' from 'Golddiggers of 1933' without ever quite going that far), Kurosawa avoids a hardboiled approach: Mifune’s experienced partner Takashi Shimura is no hardass, although his easygoing amiability disguises a lack of compassion in what has become a repetitive job without urgency: while Mifune takes every crime committed with his stolen gun on his own shoulders, Shimura brushes aside his concerns by pointing out that if the killer hadn’t used his gun “he would have used a Browning instead.”
There’s a good sense of time and place, a post-war Tokyo when it was still a wooden city in the midst of a sweltering heatwave leading to a storm, and there’s a good occasional sense of detail, such as the great piece of detection at the end as Mifune eliminates the other suspects waiting at a train station. However, it does rely on a little too much contrivance at times: is it really credible that Mifune would forget not just to inform his colleagues of the killer’s location but set off without a gun? This isn’t Kurosawa at the peak of his powers by any means, but there’s definitely the sense of a filmmaker working his way up.
On the plus side, the BFI's DVD boasts a good transfer but compared to the wealth of extras on the R1 Criterion disc, a few pages of text biographies and a single poster image make for a poor extras package indeed.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hot action film from early Kurosawa stable, 2 Jan 2004
This review is from: Stray Dog [1949] [DVD] (DVD)
You can see the process that was to flower in Kurosawa's later films, taking shape here. Yes the search sequence in the film is perhaps a little too long, but the story, written by Kurosawa, is sound, and the drama leads you on. The chase scene used in this film was the inspiration behind the French Connection, and the telephone call from the hotel was adapted William Friedkin, to help illustrate Gene Hackmans charichter.
The weather, is hot, and this is set up with panting dog from the very onset of the films titles. Stray Dog is a film about the difference in outlook between a calm, wise but jaded senior figure (Takashi Shimura) and his young impaitentent but more forgiving rookie (Toshiro Mifune). See this film, if for no other reason than the wonderful backdrop of post war japan.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Film Noir........ Japenese style, 19 Sep 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Stray Dog [1949] [DVD] (DVD)
"Stray Dog" is, worlds away from the Hollywood pacing of modern films it is reflective,emotional and mentally engrossing. Every scene seems to emerge from the celluloid perfectly formed,crowded backstreets,glowering skies and intense passages of drama are all superbly poised.
Kurosawa dwells on the morals and issues at the heart of the story(no plot revealed here,sorry!), the post-war poverty of a defeated Japan and the age old viewpoints of the young and the old,of expereince and inexperience.
A heatwave dominates the whole film, people are bathed in sweat from noon to night,windows are flung open, this contributes to a tense feeling of claustrophobia,many of the characters seem at breaking point.
Reminiscent of Fritz Langs great detective films of the thirties,"Stray Dogs" is a mental and visual feast of Asian cinema.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "A Stray Dog turns into a Mad Dog", 21 Mar 2012
By 
Tim Kidner "Hucklebrook Hound" (Salisbury, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Stray Dog [1949] [DVD] (DVD)
So says Toshiro Mifune's rookie homicide detective's superior. They're on the hunt for a killer who has, by various means and routes, gotten hold of Mifune's gun, pick-pocketed from him on a bus.

That stray dog could also possibly be seen as the desperate cop trying to pick up on any lead possible, walking miles in the heat, his sweated, frustrated brow superimposed onto shots of a bustling postwar Tokyo.

I watched this from the BFI's very nice Kurosawa Crime Collection and is an early Kurosawa, from 1949. Always having seen Toshiro Mifune as either an arrogant gangster in Drunken Angel or more usually a shouting and menacing samurai in Kurosawa's later classics, it was both nice and refreshing to see him humble and troubled as guilt sets in about losing his 'piece'.

Images I found remarkable were 50,000 spectators in a stadium, watching baseball, just four years after the end of WW2. Here, the two detectives are trying to spot their prey, a scene so reminiscent of so many '70s U.S cop movies. With an intelligent script, the story sees both methodical police work rub shoulders with Tokyo lowlife - petty criminals, their dodgy pals etc.

There are a number of standout scenes, of which the downpour when they are at their most frantic and about to nab their man and the final chase across waste-ground are among the best. Some say that Stray Dog is a minor work by the master director but it is assured, intelligent and very, very watchable. Four and a bit stars.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Early film noir classic from the master, 2 Feb 2002
By 
J. Goddeb "Jason Godden" (Newport, S Wales) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Stray Dog [VHS] (VHS Tape)
An early film from Kurosawa which stars Toshiro Mifune who was Kurosawa's principle actor in all but one of his films up till 1965 (Red Beard).
Mifune is a police officer who loses his gun which were rare items for the police force to have in the days just after the second world war. So Mifune starts a desperate search for his weapon to avoid the possibility of being fired. This leads him the criminal underworld & the backstreets of Toyko.
Excellant performances from all & great direction by Kurosawa whose best work was yet to come.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hot dog, 30 April 2013
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This review is from: Stray Dog [1949] [DVD] (DVD)
Rookie detective Toshiro Mifune (Murakami) gets his gun pick-pocketed and embarks upon a journey to retrieve it. He starts out alone but eventually teams up with a wiser cop played by Takashi Shimura (Sato). All the while, his gun is being used in more and more deadly crimes and his sense of shame and dishonour drives him onwards to rectify the situation. The gun has seven bullets, and by the end of the film, all of them have been fired.

Director Akira Kurosawa delivers a high quality effort in capturing a tense atmosphere and stifling Tokyo heat. The characters are entertaining and the dialogue realistic with some memorable scenes, eg, the chorus of girls dancing in the nightclub and then running backstage to relax - this is where we first encounter Keiko Awaji (Harumi Namaki), who has a significant role as the killer's girlfriend. We are led to believe that Mifune has many similarities with the killer Isao Kimura (Yusa) - they have just chosen different paths.

I must mention the dialogue - one particular gem is the moment when a woman's emotional behaviour is very frankly put down to her being on her period. How true. Hollywood just wouldn't dare.

The film draws you in from the start, although it's overall length could be shortened. There is one scene which is a montage of shots of Mifune wandering around the shady districts of Tokyo. Whilst the accompanying music to this is interesting, we get the point after a couple of minutes. There are a few sections like this where the director drags it out a little too long. A good film. No-one has mentioned this yet but is it significant that Mifune doesn't actually speak his dialogue - he barks it like a dog?
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant !!!!, 30 Oct 2002
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This review is from: Stray Dog [1949] [DVD] (DVD)
i had never seen this film till it was on at 1am last boxing day. i stayed awake and watched it and was glad i did. it is a really excellent japanese film noir with believble characters, wonderful atmosphere and a plot that sucks you in straight away. if you like kurosawa films you'll love this, if you don't, you'll probably like it anyway
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4.0 out of 5 stars Kurosawa Does Noir..., 15 Jan 2014
By 
Keith M - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Stray Dog [1949] [DVD] (DVD)
...but in his own distinctive un-Hollywood-like style in this 1949 (obviously) non-period film starring regulars Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura. Kuroswa's noir relies as much (in keeping with his other work) on character development and social comment as on action sequences, and Stray Dog's leisurely pace is drawn out in the wake of the sweltering Tokyo heat. Indeed, the film's mood and pace is (largely) shaped by the climate, as tempers fray, frustration builds and Kurosawa's entire cast are seen fanning themselves, drinking from water fountains or, in the case of Shimura's veteran detective, Sato, constantly 'wiping themselves down' with a hankie.

Kurosawa (and co-writer Ryuzo Kikushima's) tale is based around Mifune's rookie homicide cop, Murakami, whose gun has been lifted from him whilst on a crowded bus, and thereafter his and Sato's attempts to recover the weapon before the thief can commit any further crimes with it ('A stray dog becomes a mad dog'). Mifune is once again impressive in this early role as the inexperienced, anxious and, increasingly, guilt-ridden detective, who is taken under the older detective's wing - Shimura's father-figure being the personification of calm pragmatism, with a hint of cynicism. Kurosawa has once again achieved an engaging blend of dark humour and realism - the latter being brought to the fore courtesy of cinematographer Asaichi Nakai's raw, evocative black-and white visuals, particularly during the extended montage sequence (10 minutes or so with no dialogue) as Murakami wends his way through the city's underbelly (markets, shops and bars) in an attempt to track down his target. Other notable sequences include that set in a vast baseball stadium as the pair of detectives cleverly entrap their victim and that shot in a showgirl theatre as their pursuit leads them to the girlfriend (Keiko Awaji's Harumi Namaki) of their ultimate target, the criminal, Isao Kimura's Yusa.

In addition to Kurosawa's central pairing, also impressive are two 'significant' female roles (both full of latent eroticism) - first, that of Noriko Sengoku's, albeit minor, role as the feisty 'criminal intermediary' and, second, in a more major characterisation, Awaji's alternately reflective, obstinate and guilt-ridden showgirl, Harumi, the conflicted 'girlfriend' of Yusa, who eventually is forced to confront the questionable morality of her position. Via the detectives' encounters with Harumi (and her 'ashamed mother') and Yusa's sister, Kurosawa introduces his other theme for the film (and his work in general during this period), that of the influence of the recent WW2, as Murakami begins to reflect that, as ex-army 'veterans', he and Yusa share much history - although Sato soon warns the younger man off any feelings of sympathy ('Dirt breeds evil').

Thereafter, although Kurosawa has been quite restrained for the majority of his film, his final 15 or so minutes make up for any lost ground, as his trademark storm breaks overhead, Murakami is confronted with a train station waiting room-full of potential suspects (in, for me, the film's highlight, and Hitchockian, scene) and the film concludes with a brilliant chase and 'showdown'. Stray Dog is another Kurosawa film with much to commend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Find the thief!, 9 Aug 2013
By 
Luc REYNAERT (Beernem, Belgium) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Stray Dog [1949] [DVD] (DVD)
`Stray Dog' is Akira Kurosawa's 'Ladri di biciclette'. But, the movie doesn't reach the top level of Vittorio De Sica's masterpiece.

In `Stray Dog', the main tool (a gun) of a homicide investigator is stolen. He offers his resignation to his boss, for he wants to become a private detective in order to recover his gun. Instead, his boss assigns him as an assistant to a senior homicide detective. Together they will try to find the thief and get the pistol back.

`Stray Dog' is an outstanding picture of the Americanized Japanese society after WW II with its baseball and its nightclubs. It is a society split between the wealthy few (also the black marketeers) and the many poor. The majority of the population is struggling to live decently. Both the thief and the homicide detective are war veterans, whose luggage was stolen on their way back home. But, they chose diametrically opposite `professions'.

A must for all Akira Kurosawa fans.
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Stray Dog [1949] [DVD]
Stray Dog [1949] [DVD] by Akira Kurosawa (DVD - 2002)
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