High and Low (1963)
An executive of a shoe company becomes a victim of extortion when his chauffeur's son is kidnapped and held for ransom.
High and Low illuminates its world with a wholeness and complexity you rarely see in film.
While not a masterpiece on par with Kurosawa s best work, High And Low is a fine example of his craft, and further proof that it s not a few masterpieces but the overall scope of a career that defines a great director.
One of the best detective thrillers ever filmed.
"...Success isn't worth losing your humanity..."---HIGH AND LOW is a mysterious crime drama about an ambitious director of the company for the manufacture of footwear, who becomes the target of a madman. The film is loosely based on the 1959 novel "King's Ransom" by Ed McBain. This is a story about morality and character, in which the crime is reconstructed to the smallest detail.Mr Gondo is a wealthy industrialist who is contacted by a gang of kidnappers, who inform him that they've kidnapped his son. The crooks demand a huge ransom for the boy's return. However, They have, by mistake, kidnapped son of his driver. The moral and character of Mr. Gondo come into question...Mr. Kurosawa has put a huge moral dilemma for the main protagonist in this film. He has managed to show the two faces of a rich man, through an excellent direction, a constant questioning of character and a thorough investigation of the crime.The excellent topics is simply connected to each other. The story moves from a complex and anxious melodrama into a good detective thriller. The reconstruction of the crime is almost perfect, and Mr. Kurosawa takes us through frequent streets and remote locations. The scenery is a very good characterization is, as usual, almost perfect.Toshiro Mifune as Kingo Gondo is a man whose life plan has collapsed in one minute. He is forced to make difficult decisions. His moral and character nuances come to the fore in those moments. Mr. Mifune has offered a very convincing performance. Tatsuya Nakadai (Chief Detective Tokura) has almost managed to steal the show, as a capable, persistent and helpful detective. Kyōko Kagawa as Reiko Gondo is, above all, a mother and her performance corresponds to that fact. Tsutomu Yamazaki as Ginjir? Takeuchi is the main kidnapper. The envy and hatred are the drivers of his madness.This is a tense detective thriller and a good overview of film noir too.
Hitchcock Japanese Style.---Viewed on DVD. Perhaps the best in the Kurosawa canon! A close to seamless cinema/home-video experience with suspense (the nail-biting kind), intrigue (the edge-of-your-seat kind), thrills (due to an excellent script with many NON-telegraphed twists and turns), terrorism, kidnapping, restrained but none-the-less powerful acting (mostly involving the director's acting troupe), etc. The black & white cinematography in ultra wide format (at least 2.35 to 1.0) is often startling with frames always fully utilized (side to side) by the Director. The music score underlines what is on the screen without drawing unnecessary attention to itself. There are many now classic cinema scenes. Those in the police station especially stand out. Every question you may have asked yourself while watching events unfold are methodically raised, explored, and addressed with reasoned discourse (by a cast of about 20 police officers and undercover investigators). Hitchcock Japanese Style And With A Vengeance! (You might want to watch it frequently with the subtitles off to expand your formal/informal Japanese comprehension.) WILLIAM FLANIGAN, PhD.