Review: Jigokumon (Gate Of Hell, 1953)


Dude, she’s not that hot, you need to move on!

Written By: Teinosuke Kinugasa & Masaichi Nagata
Directed By: Teinosuke Kinugasa

Jigokumon is one of those highly frustrating movies, because you can see all the elements of greatness are present but not used properly. The setting is handled rather well, the music is ominous throughout and those are the only consistent positives in the film. That’s not a good sign, but I do mean it when I say the elements of a great film were present, and that’s what makes Jigokumon maddening to sit through.

I don’t want this to turn into a bash session, but Jigokumon was an exercise in how to derail a film. We’ll star with the acting, I have seen all three main leads in other roles and they have each delivered. That is not the case in Jigokumon, as each actor plays their part far too weakly, so much so that their characters can’t stand out above the bit players. The first twenty minutes of the film is highly puzzling, the fighting is too chaotic and because no one is clearly defined we don’t know who is fighting who and why we should care, plus there’s the laughably bad feinting of Machiko Kyô that comes out of nowhere. We move from that to the main story, and the problem is that the main story has been done countless times in every media form you can think of. One character is mad in love and because of that he will kill another one of the main characters. Admittedly the husband not seeking revenge angle was an interesting twist, but that was too little too late to save this film.

There’s not much else I can say about Jigokumon, it wasn’t a terrible film, but it didn’t work for me narrative wise or character wise. I was never given a reason to care about anything that happened and when the film was over I shrugged my shoulders and moved on, definitely not what you want at the end of your movie. I wouldn’t recommend Jigokumon, there are far better love gone wrong stories out there that are nowhere near as obvious in the plot department.




2 responses to “Review: Jigokumon (Gate Of Hell, 1953)

  1. Disagree. I just watched this and it is a classic. Perhaps you expected too much?

  2. I didn’t really expect anything from it, so I don’t think that was the case. I don’t know why, but during the time and place when I watched it, Jigokumon just did not work for me. Glad it worked for you though.

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