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"A Stray Dog turns into a Mad Dog",
This review is from: Stray Dog  [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.