7.8/10
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Kawaita hana (1964)

Not Rated | | Crime, Thriller | 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.

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Cast

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

Muraki, a hardboiled Yakuza gangster, has just been released from prison after serving a sentence for murder. Revisiting his old gambling haunts, he meets Saeko, a striking young upper-class woman who is out seeking thrills, and whose presence adds spice to the staid masculine underworld rituals. Muraki becomes her mentor while simultaneously coping with the shifts of power that have affected the gangs while he was interred. When he notices a rogue, drug-addicted young punk hanging around the gambling dens, he realizes that Saeko's insatiable lust for intense pleasures may be leading her to self-destruction. Written by goblinhairedguy

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Genres:

Crime | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

1 March 1964 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Fiore secco  »

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2.35 : 1
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The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list. See more »

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User Reviews

Pale Flower (1964)
26 June 2015 | by See all my reviews

Masahiro Shinoda's dark yakuza neo-noir film Pale Flower (or Dry Flower) was based on Shintaro Ishihara's novel and got shelved by the studio for nine months after it was made. Not only was the screenwriter Masaru Baba complaining that Shinoda focused too much on the visuals and too little on the dialogues, but apparently studio executives didn't like the idea of a movie going so much in detail of gambling in mob circuits.

The film stars Ryo Ikebe as Muraki, a stone-faced precursor to Takeshi Kitano's enigmatic yakuza characters, and Mariko Kaga, one of the jewels of '60s Japanese cinema, as Saeko, a bored lady seeking thrills, on a self-destructive path. They're pretty much the only two characters in the story that truly matter, aside from a mysterious dope-addicted mobster Yoh who proves to be a bad influence for Saeko as he destroys her and Muraki's platonic relationship without ever uttering a single word in the film. Muraki tries to win Saeko over by offering her quick adrenaline rushes, but Yoh effortlessly outdoes him each time, first by heroin, and then by something much more sinister... Needles and knives are famously exhibited as phallic objects in the movie.

Blessed with the dissonant score by Toru Takemitsu, who mixes non- diagetic sounds with the wooden cards clicking and clacking against each other in the gambling den, and painted in wonderful, all-encompassing black tones, Shinoda's movie may annoy some viewers with its slow pace, but it's ultimately worth it. Shinoda was inspired by Baudelaire's The Flowers of Evil while working on the film, and indeed, the theme of a dark world semi-illuminated by an unreachable ideal of beauty is what links the two works together.


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