Blu-Ray Review: Red Angel

Nishi 'at war'

War is a horrible business. Whilst today’s technological advancements mean that conflict is often now a hands-off affair, during the Second World War the biggest resource any country had was its fighting men. It made for bloody and brutal combat, especially in the Pacific Theatre. The Second Sino-Japanese War was particularly violent and barbaric, with no quarter given on either side (largely) due to historical tensions. This arena provides the setting for Red Angel.

Sakura Nishi (Ayako Wakao) is a Japanese nurse working in China during the war. After being sent to the frontline, her life revolves around seemingly relentless waves of amputations. Treating soldiers who are shellshocked and traumatised, with little thought to her own wellbeing. Chronically lacking sleep and overworked, she falls for one of the only doctors (Shinsuke Ashida), but his only interest is in taking morphine to numb the pain.

Red Angel is a stark and unflinching portrait of life working in a field hospital during World War II. It’s a terrible situation exacerbated by her sex, which throws up a number of other issues Nishi has to confront. Yasuzô Masumura’s film pulls no punches and the harrowing picture of war it paints is hard to shake. Wakao delivers one of her best performances in their most successful collaboration. It’s not an easy watch, but Red Angel brings the horror and inhumanity into sharp relief.  

Special features:

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Original uncompressed Japanese mono audio
  • Optional English subtitles
  • Brand new audio commentary by Japanese cinema scholar David Desser
  • Newly filmed introduction by Japanese cinema expert Tony Rayns
  • Not All Angels Have Wings, a new visual essay by Jonathan Rosenbaum
  • Original Trailer
  • Image Gallery
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tony Stella

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated booklet featuring new writing by Irene González-López

Red Angel is released on Blu-ray by Arrow Video on 17 January.

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