Toshiro Mifune is unforgettable as Kingo Gondo, a wealthy industrialist whose family becomes the target of a cold-blooded kidnapper in Akira Kurosawa’s highly influential High and Low (Tengoku to jigoku). Adapting Ed McBain’s detective novel King’s Ransom, Kurosawa moves effortlessly from compelling race-against-time thriller to exacting social commentary, creating a penetrating portrait of contemporary Japanese society. —The Criterion Collection
The son of an army officer, Kurosawa studied art before gravitating to film as a means of supporting himself. He served seven years as an assistant to director Kajiro Yamamoto before he began his own directorial career with Sanshiro Sugata (1943), a film about the 19th century struggle for supremacy between adherents of judo and jujitsu that so impressed the military government, he was prevailed upon to make a sequel (Sanshiro Sugata Part Two). Following the end of World War II, Kurosawa’s career gathered speed with a series of films that cut across all genres, from crime thrillers to period dramas. Among the latter, his Rashomon (1951) became the first postwar Japanese film to find wide favor with Western audiences. It was Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai (1954), however, that made the largest impact of any of his movies outside of Japan. Although heavily cut for its original release, this three-hour-plus medieval action drama, shot with painstaking… read more
One of Kurosawa's finest isn't a samurai epic but an engrossing thriller in which a businessman faces a moral obligation to pay out a 30 million yen ransom. Even more surprising is where the film goes after the initial drama. It's long, but it holds your attention throughout, and is another outstanding achievement in Kurosawa's impeccable filmography.
BEWARE: Spoilers ahead
After watching the ending for a second time, it’s now clear to me: The kidnapper is Gondo’s bastard son, who kidnaps out of jealously, possibly for missing out on the… read review
This movie pretty much seals the deal I’ve been working on with National Shoes consisting of Akira Kurosawa being my favorite director ever. I don’t know why I’ve been putting off this film for so… read review
Master filmmaker Akira Kurosawa’s kidnapping drama is an absolute classic of its genre and a hallmark of Japanese cinema, even though it is based on an 87th Precinct novel by Ed McBain. Equal parts… read review