Written by: Michael Den Boer on July 21st, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, October 1st, 1966
Director: Yasuzo Masumura
Cast: Ayako Wakao, Shinsuke Ashida, Yusuke Kawazu, Ranko Akagi, Jotaro Senba, Daihachi Kita, Jun Osanai, Daigo Inoue, Takashi Nakamura, Kenichi Tani, Kisao Tobita, Naomasa Kawashima, Ayako Ikegami, Kyousuke Shiho, Shin Minatsu, Ken Nakahara, Shinji Sahara
DVD released: October 17th, 2006
Approximate running time: 95 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Japanese
DVD Release: Fantoma Films
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.98
Synopsis: Sakura Nishi a young Japanese woman struggles to retain her sanity after while serving as a nurse in China for the Japanese Army. She is bombarded with unwanted sexual advances and her mental toughness is pushed to the limit when faced with the reality of being unable to help those she in her care. While working as a nurse on the front line she falls in the love with a morphine addicted doctor named Dr. Okabe.
Red Angel was directed by Yasuzo Masumura whose diverse filmography includes Giants and Toys, Afraid to Die, The Black Test Car, Manji, Blind Beast and Hanzo the Razor: The Snare. The plot for Red Angel is a very bleak affair about a woman named Sakura whose guilt and sexual desires break her soul. The story starts off with Sakura being raped by a soldier she is taking care of at a hospital. She reports the man who raped her and he is sent off to fight on the front lines of Japans war against China. Sometime later they passed cross again. The solider now gravely wounded is in need of a blood transfusion. Not wanting the solider to feel she was allowing him to die for what he done to her. She begs a doctor to help save the man and when the soldier dies it sets forth an inner turmoil that consumes her. This is just the first of a series of events that culminate over the course of the film leading up to a mesmerizing finale.
Visually Red Angel is a brutal and unflinching look at the atrocities that are committed during war. This film would look so much of its visual power if it was in color. To director Yasuzo Masumura’s credit the films striking black & white photography heightens the performances and mood of the film. Some of the films more memorable moments include Sakura allowing an arm less patient to rub his big toe in her crotch and during one of the operating scenes there is a shot were the camera shows a bucket full of amputated body parts. Some of these operating scenes get very gruesome with body parts being sawed off with little if any care and the patients are often not given an anesthesia. Yasuzo Masumura once again tackles controversial subject matter head on.
Cast in the lead role of Nurse Sakura Nishi is an actress named Ayako Wakao who frequently worked with Yasuzo Masumura. Here performance is heartbreaking and at the same time poetic. Shinsuke Ashida is cast in the role of Sakura’s lover Dr. Okabe. His performance does an admirable job complimenting Ayako Wakao’s performance. The acting is very good all around with no performances missing the mark or and lacking potency. Ultimately Red Angel is Yasuzo Masumura most haunting and powerful film.
Red Angel is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The black and white image looks clean and contrast levels look strong throughout. Overall the source used for Red Angel’s transfer is in excellent shape and on par with Fantoma’s other Yasuzo Masumura DVD releases.
This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital mono mix in Japanese and removable English subtitles have been in included. The subtitles are error free, easy to follow and understand. The audio mix for this release sound clear and evenly balanced. There are no problems with distortion or any other audio defects.
Extras for this release include the film’s original trailer in Japanese with English subtitles, a bio/filmography for director Yasuzo Masumura and a poster & stills gallery. The main extra for this release is Earl Jackson JR’s detailed liners notes about the film and Yasuzo Masumura. Red Angel is another exceptional DVD release from Fantoma Films that is on par with the rest of their Yasuzo Masumura DVD releases.