Archive for April 14th, 2012

In the sweltering Summer heat of post war Tokyo, a young rookie homocide detective Murakami finds that his gun has been stolen on a crowded bus which is then used in a robbery. Murakami feels responsible for the crime and will do anything in capturing the killer. His initial search around the seedy underworld streets of Tokyo only manages to find a woman who may have information on where he can find the perpetrator. Teaming up with veteran detective Sato and with some new leads to help them, the duo are soon back out on the trail of the killer. But as another murder is carried out using Murakami’s colt gun once more, the search becomes even more desperate. A female dancer might have some vital information on the killer but she’s refusing to say anything. Will Murakami and Sato manage to capture the killer before anyone else is murdered?

Possibly Akira Kurosawa’s first real masterpiece and it’s not hard to see why this is the case. This classy and stylish film noir is a riveting tale racked with real tension amidst the sweaty Summer heat. The opening scene grabs your attention straight away – a panting dog suffering in the heat. It’s full of dazzling sequences with highly imaginative and technically adept editing and camera work such as the famous 8 minute sequence with no dialogue of Murakami wandering through a black market looking for his gun. Stray Dog could also be tagged as being the first ‘buddy movie’ ever made. The plot is extremely well crafted and ranks up there with the best film noir. But the movie is uneven at parts and some scenes drag a little too long. Kurosawa wasn’t interested in your typical good guy/bad guy storyline. Instead he went deeper into what was happening in post war Japan. The social and economic conditions in the country led many to crime which is the case with the killer in this movie Yuso. There are many memorable scenes in this movie but I suppose the final chase and subsequent fight out in the countryside between Murakami and Yuso is what really stands out. The last twenty minutes of the movie slowly builds to an incredible climax.

A young Toshiro Mifune is quite marvellous as Murakami and what would be the start of a long and fruitful collaboration between himself and Kurosawa. What makes the story so captivating is Murakami’s feeling of guilt throughout, and his learning about crime, criminals, and that what is important is even though a person might make a mistake you can make some good come out of it. Matching Mifune’s performance is the superb Takashi Shumura as Sato the savvy veteran. The bond and the chemistry that grows between these two men is the heart and soul of the movie

All being said and done, Stray Dog is a terrific multi-layered movie that’s well worth watching.

No trailer I’m afraid.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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