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Red Angel (1966)

Akai tenshi (original title)
During the Sino-Japanese War, a young army nurse gives sympathy to her patients and falls in love with an impotent doctor who's addicted to morphine.




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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ayako Wakao ...
Nurse Sakura Nishi
Shinsuke Ashida ...
Dr. Okabe
Yûsuke Kawazu ...
Pvt. Orihara
Ranko Akagi ...
Head Nurse Iwashima
Jôtarô Senba ...
Private Sakamoto
Daihachi Kita ...
Private Nogami
Jun Osanai ...
Special Duty Sergeant Major
Daigo Inoue ...
Advance Guard Company's Fifth Chief
Takashi Nakamura ...
Head of infantry
Ken'ichi Tani ...
Wounded soldier
Kisao Tobita ...
Naomasa Kawashima ...
Ayako Ikegami ...
Nurse Tsurusaki
Kyôsuke Shiho ...
Chinese Boy
Shin Minatsu ...


In 1939, Sakura Nishi is a young army nurse who is sent to the field hospitals in China during the Sino-Japanese war. She has to assist the surgeon Dr. Okabe with an incredible number of amputations. In the crowded wards, she gives sympathy to some of the soldiers, including sexually servicing one who has lost both arms and has no hope of returning home. She falls in love with Dr. Okabe, and follows him to the front, even though he is impotent from his morphine addiction. Written by Will Gilbert

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance | War


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Release Date:

1 July 1971 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Red Angel  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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User Reviews

Red Angel (1966)
22 July 2015 | by (Croatia) – See all my reviews

Director Yasuzo Masumura was one of Japanese filmmakers who were drafted into army during WW2 and later shared their experiences through making gut-wrenching anti-war films. Masumura's movies can generally be divided into anti-corporate satires (Giants and Toys, The Black Test Car), youth films (Kisses, The Blue Sky Maiden), yakuza films (Afraid to Die, Ode to the Yakuza), proto-feminist films (A Wife Confesses, Manji), kinky sex films (Blind Beast, The Music) and anti-war films (Hoodlum Soldier, Nakano Spy School). Red Angel, adapted from Yoriyoshi Arima's novel, falls into the latter three categories.

As usual per Masumura's 60s work, the film stars his muse Ayako Wakao, who, although appearing in a royal bunch of his films, had a tumultuous working relationship with him. In a 1970 interview, Masumura even called her "selfish and calculating […] she's hardly a pure-hearted woman and she knows it." So, despite the two not getting on with each other too well, they still made a LOT of films together and this is regarded as one of their best. However, I must say that out of seven Masumura films I've seen so far, this one is my least favorite.

Red Angel is certainly edgy for the time period it was made in; soldiers are portrayed as rape-crazed desperate men and/or monsters, there's plenty of graphic amputation scenes and a very bleak atmosphere all throughout. Also, sex scenes with an amputee without both arms, which somehow don't end up looking ridiculous. The film brings up multiple moral dilemmas, the most prominent of which is whether or not it's worth dying of enduring the inferno of war some more. So, this is probably one of the bleakest war films ever made.

Unfortunately, I grew tired of the film very quickly as none of the characters interested me all that much and I found the dialogues to be really boring. Some plot points were predictable and some seemed completely illogical to me. But most importantly, the movie felt very "meh" and forgettable despite buckets of severed limbs and unusual sex scenes being scattered throughout. It' also in bad need of restoration, like most if not all of this director's work. My vote is six.

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