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The 'first' Kurosawa proper....,
This review is from: Drunken Angel  [DVD] (DVD)
Considered by many to be Kurosawa's first film (actually his eighth) of real note, I watched it as part of the newly released BFI Kurosawa Crime Collection.
I found it more accessible and initially enjoyable than his later and more well known samurai classics, probably because it could have been directed by Howard Hawkes or any number of leading crime flick directors of the period. With Toshiro Mifune (in his first of many Kurosawa roles) dressed in sharp suits and slicked back hair, he looks every part a Chicago gangster. Jazz bands play in bars, with western style dancing.
Takeshi Shimura (another Kurosawa regular) plays the drunk doc, who despairs at the slums around him and the typhoid-infested pond that everything is dumped into that is on his doorstep. He takes a bullet from the younger man and then treats his TB. As both men lurch unsteadily from their respective curses (Mifune soon looking very haggard and unwell) and the two men form an uneasy alliance. Then the yakuza's plot is taken away from him, due to his ailing health.
Drunken Angel displays not only a sharp snapshot on post-war Japan and western influences but nuanced and fine performances and a great story of two very different men, who find maybe that the differences aren't so great, after all.