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Stray Dog

Updated on November 30, 2009

Akira Kurasawa uses film noir to perfection

While others merely use film noir in movies, Kurasawa uses it to perfection. Set in post WWII Japan, the film is about a young Japanese detective, Murakami (Toshiro Mifune) whom on one hot summer day gets his gun stolen by a pickpocket. Rather than facing the shame of reporting his gun stolen, he decides to investigate on who took it. Aided by a seasoned veteran detective, Sato (Takashi Shimura), they discover a criminal underworld in which the young detective's gun was sold and used to commit several crimes, including murder. Such events cause Murakami to become obsessed with finding the gun and the murderer. However as we get deeper into the movie, the audience is able to see how this investigation turns out to a deep look into Murakami's own criminal ambitions. Kurasawa proves once again that he's the master at film making as he's able to tell a story about a man searching for a criminal that shares many of his own qualities, but with different choices leading them down to different paths. As they were both veterans of WWII and were both struck with debt and horrific memories of the war. Toshiro Mifune continues to proves just how great of an actor he is, with his epic performance. "Stray Dog" is perhaps one of the most engaging film noir movies ever made.

The performances in this movie were very well done. Takashi and Toshiro were great together, as they demonstrated the type of chemistry absent in a lot cop movies, in today's modern western cinema. Toshiro Mifune was simply a master as this role as he was able to portray a naive young detective, who is so head strong to find the murderer, without even realizing the startling revelations that await him along the way. As for Takashi, he was able display a calming poise that helped the keep the story grounded.

As the story starts out as just a simple case of a stolen weapon, it soon turns into a deep psychological exploration of Murakami's inner demons. As he finds, the murderer and him have a lot in common. Each taking different paths, in life. Getting involved in a conspiracy that keeps the two detectives on their feet as they investigate the murders.

Kurasawa's use of the film noir is perfect as he uses the dark scenery to create a lot of mystery. All while, building up the story to its' epic climax.

Indeed, this may not Akira's strongest film, but it's definitely worth watching. Akira, masters the use of film noir as he is able to tell a provoking story of self reflection and tragic irony. Definitely, one of the most engaging film noir movies ever made.


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