The Bad Sleep Well tells the story of corruption at the highest levels of Japanese business and its tragic consequences. Though flawed by a tedious introductory sequence and by an ending that seems out of sync with the sto... more »ry, it is a fascinating movie and the middle part is especially exciting. Japanese legend Toshiro Mifune plays Koichi Nishi, the seemingly stoic bridegroom who is trying to get ahead by marrying the boss's daughter, Kieko (Kyoko Kagawa), who was crippled as a girl. The bride's brother, in a shocking display, exposes the groom's motives during his wedding toast and threatens his new brother-in-law with death if he disappoints his sister. But Nishi is not who we think. He was born the illegitimate son of the man who Kieko's father, Iwabuchi (Maysayuki Mori), manipulated into suicide. Now Nishi wants revenge for his father's death. As Nishi slowly destroys Iwabuchi's life, he makes the fatal error of falling in love with his wife, who already loves him. Their unconsummated marriage stands between these two like a palpable pillar of stone. But just when we think the stone has been tossed aside by love, Iwabuchi finds out who his son-in-law really is. Shot in black and white, this film falls just short of being brilliant. Mifune is amazing in his portrayal of this complex man who lets his father's past destroy his own future, and Maysayuki Mori's performance as the evil Iwabuchi is understated but nonetheless chilling. --Luanne Brown« less
"I purchased this because I heard the Criterion was releasing an unannounced version. The Chinese Mei Ah version has been out for a while and could be ordered well before this out of Hong Kong, so I was surprised when I opened the box and found the Mei Ah version.
If you've ever mistakenly purchased a Mei Ah Japanese DVD, you'll know what I'm saying. These are produced for a Chinese market. A Chinese person translates the Japanese into Chinese. To broaden the market and perhaps sell to English speakers in Hong Kong, a Chinese person then translates the Chinese into English, or what's supposed to pass as English, but at times is closer to a pidgen language.
I've already suffered through these translations with Mei Ah once and I'm returning this unadvertised version unopened and canceling my Dodes Kaden order (I already have that on Mei Ah, also, and though I enjoy this movie I've never made it through once with the DVD and watch my old VHS instead.)
Short story: if you don't need the subtitles, this version will work. It may even work when you turn the Chinese subtitles on if you can read Chinese. But if you're an English speaker, you can laugh at the translations.
Shame on Amazon for hoisting this over on us by not stating on the sales page that this is a Mei Ah import!!
Movie: 5 stars from watching the VHS. DVD: 0 stars."
Deceit and betrayal in the world of the salaryman
Zack Davisson | Seattle, WA, USA | 11/01/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Bad Sleep Well" is a great movie. Imagine taking the major characters of "Hamlet," and casting them in a new plot. Revenge for the death of a father is still the issue, but with very different methods. The world of the salaryman is dark and cold, and only a dark and cold man can succeed. I am reminded of Nietzsche: "Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you." This may be one of Kurosawa's best films. The mood is perfect. The scenes are perfect. Mifune is perfect. He wears a suit with the same danger as he wears his Kimono. His briefcase is no less deadly than his sword. As a Kurosawa trademark, the ending is an exclamation point rather than a period. All the wrong people are dead, and all the wrong people walk away clean. This movie is not pleasant. It is, however, very good."
Good Movie, bad DVD
Michael S. Ball | San Diego, CA | 09/07/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"This is a wonderful movie, but do not buy this DVD. The technical information omits the publisher, but it's Mei Ah, a Hong Kong company that produces a number of Kurosawa films. Unfortunately, they seem to add subtitles by translating the Japanese into Chinese and then translating the Chinese into English. The result is some of the worst subtitles I have ever seen. The transfer quality is poor too, but the subtitles are the real killer. If you want to see this movie, get the VHS or wait for somebody like Criterion to publish a high-quality DVD."
Terrific Kurosawa Film Noir of Corporate Exploitation and Co
Kim Anehall | Chicago, IL USA | 01/29/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Japanese artist, director, and writer Akira Kurosawa is undoubtedly one of the most influential filmmakers of all time. Tour de forces such as Ikiru (1952), Seven Samurai (1954), and Red Beard (1965) on his repertoire have allowed him to gain a great number of dedicated viewers that still are mesmerized by his visual artistry. His work often finds itself being a source for other filmmakers from almost all the continents of the world. What Kurosawa has in common with these contemporary filmmakers is that he also frequently incorporated masterpieces into his work. On several occasions, he employed the works of William Shakespeare, but he also drew much from his own creative spirit. One of these, The Bad Sleep Well (1960), driven by his own inspiration to criticize the Japanese post-war corruption and hierarchical abuse shows his strong influence of Hamlet. Fortunately, Kurosawa could direct his own story, free of outside influences, as his own production company paid for the party.
The Japanese opening credits with white symbols on black background together with the opening score set a dark and frustrating tone to the film. At first, the hostile and angry mood in the opening score is a little perplexing. However, as the film unfolds, it makes much more sense. The introduction of the story takes place at the wedding party for two of the main characters Koichi Nishi (Toshirô Mifune) and Keiko Iwabushi (Kyôko Kagawa). It turns out that the press has sniffed a story within the wedding, but these press members are far more respectful than what La Dolce Vita (1960) portrayed through its celebrity chasing paparazzi. Instead, this situation requires diplomacy, if these reporters want to have a chance to understand why this wedding has turned into the murky waters where the biggest sharks rest.
The lengthy opening that stretches for about 20 minutes develops the story line, which allows for intrigue and suspense to take form. There are several captivating facts that surface during this opening such as a suicide five years ago. The viewers also learn that Koichi's brother Tatsuo (Tatsuya Mihashi) promises to kill Nishi if he hurts his sister. There are also rumors of how Nishi marries the handicapped Keiko in order to gain status and wealth. The police arrest one of the guests without any resistance while a number of significant characters provides congratulatory speeches to the newlyweds. Amidst all of this, slowly the story begins to take form, as the weeding party becomes a reunion place for a large number of businessmen and characters that hold public office in high-ranking places. The reporters that cover the wedding keep the audience informed about who and what these suspicious characters have done. It is a remarkably clever set up by Kurosawa, which gets its crescendo when an enormous cake appears resembling the ministry building. The cake even marks the window from which the man committed suicide five years ago. To which one of the reporters consequently states, "Best one-act I've ever seen.", as another reporter responds, "This is just the prelude."
The duration of the other two hours of the film switches direction to the plotting and scheming Nishi who seeks vengeance for his dead father. In order to achieve his revenge Nishi wants to reveal the corruption within his father-in-laws business, but to do so he must apply the tactics of his enemies. The film also portrays the unwritten rules under which the companies exploit their obedient employees. Besides the revenge, the film seeks to see the issue of the murder on Nishi's father from different viewpoints such as from within the family, from the victim's near and dear, and from a third and independent perspective. The Bad Sleep Well also plays strongly with the notion of guilt, as the title so eloquently and ironically points out. Meanwhile, love shows that it also does not take any prisoners, as Nishi truly falls in love with Keiko.
The Bad Sleep Well is not Kurosawa's most memorable film, yet it augments many scenes with artistic brilliance. Kurosawa shows his skilled ability to frame a scene into perfection in the film. He also sends forth socially important messages of the time when the film was shot, and he leaves the audience with much to ponder after the film has reached its end. However, it does not reach the same heights as his Rashômon (1950), Ikiru (1952), or Kagemusha (1980). This is not to say that this is not an excellent film, because Kurosawa once again proves to the audience why he is one of the most influential filmmakers of all time. The Bad Sleep Well presents a film noir with hints of Hitchcock and clear influences of Shakespeare in it, but it also leaves the audience with an original touch of Kurosawa that lets the viewer submerged into a very good film about the corrupt and dark world of corporate sharks."
What can I say? See It!
Hitoshi Noguchi | Oita, Japan | 06/25/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There really were cover-up suicides by government officials at the time this movie was made. So this movie is also a sort of social commentary; the only such movie by Kurosawa. Yet, it is both art and entertainment at its best. A rare mix.Mifune does not get good reviews in modern outfits. He does not look as good as when he is in a kimono. But when he appears out of the smoke in a suicide scene on top of a vulcano, you might think he was the inspiration for Darth Vader. This complex hero, motivated by vengence but softened by love, is a mix of good and evil in a transition between boy and man. Greek myths were never made better.Too bad the title, which is so catchy, poetic and ironic in Japanese, does not translate very well. Don't let that be a turn-off. This movie will be engraved in your memory for the rest of your life."