After a battle with rival criminals, a small-time gangster is treated by an alcoholic doctor in post-war Japan. The doctor diagnoses the young gangster's tuberculosis, and convinces him to begin treatment for it. The two enjoy an uneasy friendship until the gangster's former boss is released from prison and seeks to take over his gang once again. The ailing young man loses his status as gang boss and becomes ostracised, and eventually confronts his former boss in a battle to the death.Written by
Bernard Keane <BKeane2@email.dot.gov.au>
When Matsunaga throws the Doctor out of the "Bolero", we see him fall on his back. His shirtsleeves are rolled up, so his forearms are bare: his left arm does not make contact with the ground. The next scene is of him cleaning a wound in his left forearm, below the elbow. See more »
Straight-forward and simple drama about the troubled relationship between a low level gangster (Toshiro Mifune) dying of tuberculosis and the drunken doctor (Takashi Shimura) trying to save him during post-war Japan. There are a lot of different genres on display in this early Kurosawa film including noir, gangster and an odd couple drama. The three don't always mix too well together but Kurosawa's great direction mixed with the great lead performances make this a must see even if the gang would go onto much better films. What works the best here are the performances by Shimura and Mifune. The two men work extremely well together because they make their characters so well rounded to the point where you feel as if you know everything about the men. Mifune really digs deep into the gangster and this leads to many well acted scenes including the drunken one where the gangster must finally realize how serious his disease is. Shimura clearly steals the film as the angry and often times bitter, if still caring, drunken doctor. The amount of anger he displays with his character while still making us understand why he cares so much is perfectly done by the actor. Cheiko Nakakita and Reizaburo Yamamoto are also very good in their supporting roles of the nurse and gang boss. The cinematography is also top-notch especially a dream like sequence where the dying gangster invisions himself as a zombie-like creature. This scene is very effective as is another where spitting blood is involved. I think at times the film is way too over dramatic and this includes many scenes dealing with the "swampness" of Japan. Even with that said, this is still a very impressive drama that fans of Kurosawa will want to check out.
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