Stray Dog ★★★★½

"They say there's no such thing as bad people. Only bad situations."

A rare flash of empathy in a genre too dominated by moral extremes (good cops vs. bad criminals, bad cops vs. badder criminals). Unfortunately, the film's pat ending undermines this theme, but not to the detriment of the filmmaking and performances. Takashi Shimura has to be one of the most underrated actors of all time. While he's usually cast as an older man shaped by his experiences, he never plays the same character twice. Between the bluster of Drunken Angel and the melancholy of Ikiru, his dry nonchalance here felt almost radical.

That said, when it comes to physical performance (especially when the climax involves a sloppy brawl), the great Mifune always steals the show.