Drunken Angel

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Year Released: 1948
Rating: 2.0

Low-end Kurosawa about the unlikely friendship between an alcoholic doctor (Takashi Shimura) and a hot-tempered gangster dying from tuberculosis (Toshiro Mifune) - the doctor treats his patient (though his patient resists treatment) while the patient tries to settle an old score (while hacking up blood). The characters and scenario lack the complexity of better Kurosawa-Mifune efforts - meetings between the doctor and gangster usually conclude with barking, fisticuffs and objects thrown - and the ending is a fatalistic shrug (though at least the doctor appears to cut down on the drink). Still, this is the first important collaboration between the two Japanese greats, and Mifune shows he can hold a picture together by sheer force of will and charisma.