In the middle of a fierce commercial competition between three caramel companies, an executive builds up a ditsy teenage girl as a mascot while simultaneously trying to uncover the rival companies' plans.
Yukinojo, a Kabuki actor, seeks revenge by destroying the three men who caused the deaths of his parents. Also involved are the daughter of one of Yukinojo's targets, two master thieves, and a swordsman who himself is out to kill Yukinojo.
Kiyoshi is a brooding young man who treats women solely as objects. Makoto is a young woman who is just reaching her sexual awakening. She and her friends accept car rides from middle aged ... See full summary »
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
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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