Murukami, a young homicide detective, has his pocket picked on a bus and loses his pistol. Frantic and ashamed, he dashes about trying to recover the weapon without success until taken under the wing of an older and wiser detective, Sato. Together they track the culprit.Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
STRAY DOG stands as the legendary Akira Kurosawa's first real masterpiece, noteworthy for at least two big reasons: the style - classic American film noir (rich, velvety b&w atmospheres), enhanced with a touch of Italian neo-realism (great use of diverse locations, which provide a great view of day-to-day postwar Japan), and the star, a young Toshiro Mifune, whose truly collaborative association with Kurosawa was cemented here, and would grow in spectacular fashion during the subsequent 16 years.
Mifune became as much of an international icon as Kurosawa, and this is the first film where it's easily evident why. As an example of film noir, STRAY DOG offers plenty of gripping suspense and moral complexity, and holds up well alongside classics like THE BIG HEAT, THE KILLING or THE MALTESE FALCON. Kurosawa touched upon international influences to an unprecedented degree in Japanese film (the internationalist impulses of Ozu, Kenji Mizoguchi or Mikio Naruse are just as deep and varied, but far more discreetly deployed), Kurosawa also skillfully highlights Japanese specifics (the rookie cop expecting to be fired, even accepting the possibility in an apologetic fashion, only to be assured that he will not be fired - this would not occur in a similar American setting), while always linking the same details to universals: honor, nobility, responsibility. This would become the thread linking Kurosawa's celebrated period/samurai films to his contemporary dramas. STRAY DOG was perhaps the first of his films where it truly resonates in a global fashion - a timeless, classic film.
39 of 44 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this