22 user 44 critic

Pale Flower (1964)

Kawaita hana (original title)
Not Rated | | Action, Crime | 1 March 1964 (Japan)
A gangster gets released from prison and has to cope with the recent shifts of power between the gangs, while taking care of a thrill-seeking young woman, who got in bad company while gambling.


Masahiro Shinoda


Shintarô Ishihara (based on the novel by), Masaru Baba (screenplay) | 1 more credit »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Ryô Ikebe ... Muraki
Mariko Kaga ... Saeko
Takashi Fujiki Takashi Fujiki ... Yoh
Naoki Sugiura Naoki Sugiura ... Aikawa
Shin'ichirô Mikami Shin'ichirô Mikami ... Reiji
Isao Sasaki Isao Sasaki ... Jiro
Kôji Nakahara Kôji Nakahara ... Tamaki (as Koji Nakahara)
Chisako Hara Chisako Hara ... Yakuza's Lover
Seiji Miyaguchi ... Gang leader
Eijirô Tôno ... Gang Leader
Mikizo Hirata Mikizo Hirata ... Mizuguchi
Reizaburô Yamamoto
Kyû Sazanka ... Imai
Hideo Kidokoro Hideo Kidokoro
Akio Tanaka Akio Tanaka ... Patron


Just released from prison after serving three years for murdering a member of a rival gang, Maraki, a middle-aged yakuza, returns to his old haunts in Tokyo largely out of loyalties despite not much liking that life or himself in the process. Those old routines include assuming his place within the Funada gang, reconnecting with Shinko, his twenty-three year old girlfriend, who wants a commitment from him (something he probably isn't willing to give), she threatening to accept another marriage proposal otherwise despite her love for him, and gambling at his usual illegal card den despite he not often winning. Although at first glance he thinks nothing has changed in three years, there are some major changes, especially that the Funada gang has merged with that rival gang partly to maintain the peace. One other change is that an innocent looking, young, upscale woman, Saeko, she the only female, has started gambling at that same card den, that innocent look beyond the fact that she ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Action | Crime


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #564. See more »


[first lines]
Muraki: Back in Tokyo. It's been three years. It makes my head spin. What on earth is this?
See more »

User Reviews

Japanese Film Noir
29 November 2010 | by jgcoleSee all my reviews

Upon his release from prison for killing a rival mobster, Muraki strolls the streets of Tokyo and muses that nothing has changed in three years and that people are little more than half dead stupid animals whose lives are meaningless. In voice-over he asks "What was so wrong with killing one of them?" While he was away the two Tokyo gangs have reached a truce in order to eliminate a third gang from Osaka. Muraki is unsure of his role in the new alliance and places little value in the yakuza (gangster) code. He is a lone wolf who, while a dependable team player, is a risk taker who takes action on his own and finds consolation from his weary existence in the Tokyo nights and its' gambling dens.

Saeko is a well dressed, beautiful young woman with lots of cash and, like Muraki, is a creature of the night. They meet at a card game where Saeko recklessly wagers, loses and wants more. A woman in such a place is an oddity and all the players are fascinated by her, including Muraki. When she asks Muraki if he knows of a game where the stakes are higher he knows that he has found what he was looking for. The two are immediately drawn to one another and their fates are sealed. Together they combat the boredom of life with high stakes gambling, high speed joy rides (she drives) and other thrills that come with living on the edge. They agree that whatever they do, they can forgive themselves. "I have no use for the dawn. I adore these evil nights," says Saeko. A truer noir couple there never was. But when Saeko becomes drawn to another mid level yakuza – the half-Chinese junkie Yoh - Muraki feels a sense of loss. To win her back he asks Saeko if she wants to watch him as he assassinates the head of the Osaka syndicate. She cannot say no and he knows it.

While it is not a typical yakuza film as there is little bloodshed and killing, it is a gritty portrait of yakuza life: gambling dens, night clubs, racetracks and doing things they have to do and feeling good about it. It is their life and it is unquestioned. It is this that the film is really about: fate and the impending doom that hangs over all of the characters. It reflects the end of the old Japanese tradition of honor and obedience to a patriarchal system that was in disarray after their defeat in WWII and the occupation that followed. The American film noir existentialism and stunning expressionist photography in monochrome Cinemascope create a film experience that is the equal of anything that came out of Europe and the U.S. Even the card game scenes, a game called hana fuda with a deck that has twelve suits all named after flowers, have an intensity that is very noir. There is also a bizarre dream sequence that adds to the stylized strangeness of the film as does the avant garde soundtrack by Toru Takemitsu. The strange and confusing percussion and brass of Takemitsu's score somehow seems in perfect sync with what we are seeing on the screen. This is a complete film experience.

20 of 23 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 22 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.






Release Date:

1 March 1964 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

Fiore secco See more »

Filming Locations:

Tokyo, Japan See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

We've Got Your Streaming Picks Covered

Looking for some great streaming picks? Check out some of the IMDb editors' favorites movies and shows to round out your Watchlist.

Visit our What to Watch page

Recently Viewed