We’ve been covering many of Yasuzo Masumura’s films — Giants and Toys, Irezumi, Black Test Car, The Black Report, Blind Beast — lately and that’s because Arrow Video has been putting them out on blu ray, sometimes for the first time in the U.S.
Sakura Nishi has been sent to a field hospital in Tientsin, the frontline of Japan’s war with the Chinese during the Second Sino-Japanese war.
It’s a losing battle filled with amputation after amputation, as well as soldiers that are emotionally and physically ruined, even going so far as to assault her when she’s one of the few people who can help them. Yet even in this hell — and with the Chinese troops coming to kill everyone — she finds herself giving herself to a man with no arms, trapped in a hospital as he can’t return to Japan and his wife and the public who can never know just how badly the war is actually faring and falling in love with head surgeon Dr. Okabe, who has found himself addicted to morphine.
Even when the man who attacked her comes back injured, Nishi begs Okabe to give him precious blood, but supplies are so low that hardly anyone can be given drugs or fluids. Everyone is chopped into pieces, with Nishi often holding them down so that the bonesaw can do its horrible work. Piles of severed appendages and bodies waiting to be burned prove that this field hospital is just slowing down the inevitable, just as the battles with the Chinese will soon destroy them all.
Red Angel is a brutal film. It’s a punch in the face, a kick to the stomach and a hit to the brain and the people that should see it and be moved and changed by it never will.
As for you, you can grab the new Arrow Video release of Red Angel, which has new audio commentary by Japanese cinema scholar David Desser, a new video essay by Jonathan Rosenbaum, a newly filmed introduction by Japanese cinema expert Tony Rayns, a trailer and image gallery. You can get it from MVD.