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Akai Tenshi

Red Angel

Japan 1966
produced by
Ikuo Kubodera for Daiei
directed by Yasuzo Masumura
starring Ayako Wakao, Shinsuke Ashida, Yusuke Kawazu, Ranko Akagi, Jotaro Senba, Daihachi Kita, Ayako Ikegami, Keiichi Noda
screenplay by Ryozo Kasahara, based on the novel by Yoriyoshi Arima, music by Sei Ikeno

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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1939: Japanese nurse Nishi (Ayako Wakao) is sent to a field hospital in China, where she has to treat the wounded, but for some of them, the usual treatment is not enough, and before long, she is raped by a patient, private Sakamoto, with the others in the room watching and cheering, since they all haven't seen a woman in months. The next day, Nishi complains about him and as a result, he is sent back to the frontline, to his death as he puts it.

A few weeks later, Nishi is relocated to a frontline hospital, where her main function is to keep patients still while head surgeon Okabe (Shinsuke Ashida) amputates their arms and legs. Eventually, Nishi bumps into her rapist, Sakamoto,  who's hardly alive anymore, and Okabe has already given up on him - but when Nishi promises to come to Okabe's room that night, he agrees to try to save his life ... but fails - the first death Nishi feels directly responsible for.

Nishi still keeps her promise and visits Okabe in his room that night, but to her surprise he doesn't demand sex but merely wants someone to drink with and talk to, and someone who gives him a morphine injection ... and somehow, Nishi falls in love with Okabe.

Eventually, Nishi is ordered back to the field hospital, where she meets private Orihara (Yusuke Kawazu), a soldier who has lost his arms but is not sent back to Japan because seeing armless veterans might turn the populace against the war. Nishi feels sorry enough for Orihara that she gives him a handjob when he demands it, later even takes him to a hotel to have sex with him ... but the very next day, he commits suicide, and Nishi feels responsible for his death as well.

Later, Nishi is ordered back to the frontline hospital, where the situation has worsened and she now even has to remove bullets from wounded soldiers ... but still she has Okabe, who soon also falls in love with her - but unfortunately he's impotent and addicted to morphine.

When Okabe is transferred to a frontline village, Nishi decides to go with him and takes young nurse Tsuruzaki (Ayako Ikegami) with her. The village though is worse than anything else since cholera has broken out, and among the prostitutes (or relief women, as they are called here) too, so the soldiers also try to rape the nurses. Plus the Chinese are closing in by the minute. And Okabe can't get his regular morphine-shot and seems to go crazy. Eventually though, Nishi can cure him of both his addiction and his impotence in one go, and everything suddenly seems perfect ... which is when the Chinese attack and literally wipe out the village. Only Nishi miraculously survives with hardly a scratch on her, but when she sees dead nurse Tsuruzaki, this is the third death she feels directly responsible for ... and she also finds dead Okabe, leaving her in pieces ...

 

Very bleak movie with a strong antiwar-message despite the fact that there isn't any actual fighting shown until the very end. However, the many images of dead soldiers and amputated limbs, the surgery scenes and the blood flowing look like nothing short of hell and are sure to make an impression on even the most indifferent of viewers.

In all, the film is nothign short of impressive, and maybe the strongest antiwar film there is - just don't expect it to be in the least bit uplifting ...

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
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tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
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screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
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you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
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written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
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out now on DVD