High and Low

High and Low ★★★★½

Exceeding all expectations and scoring high marks in all departments of filmmaking, High and Low is a masterly directed, ingeniously scripted & expertly executed police procedural crime drama that approaches its subject matter in a thoroughly investigative fashion, and presents Akira Kurosawa at the top of his game.

The story follows a wealthy shoe company executive who becomes a victim of extortion. Having mortgaged his entire savings on another deal, he finds his morality challenged and contemplates whether to risk all that he owns by paying the ransom or put his other plan into action that would secure his family's future.

Directed by Akira Kurosawa, High and Low at first appeared to be completely different from what it eventually ended up being, and is skilfully steered by the master storyteller. Every move is carefully envisioned, every segment is illustrated in exhaustive detail & every twist is cleverly placed within the narrative as Kurosawa takes a very calculative & methodical approach to bring this story to life.

There is rarely any instance when the film steps on the wrong foot. Be it the build-up, ideal pacing, smooth & controlled operation of camera, immaculate editing or the entire investigation process, every single aspect works in harmony with each other, and plays an important role in enriching the overall experience and making the drama much more immersive, engaging & impactful.

Coming to the performances, Toshirô Mifune plays the wealthy executive faced with moral dilemma when his chauffeur's son is kidnapped, and delivers a very restrained performance. However it still carries an intensity that overshadows the inputs of others sharing the screen with him. Tatsuya Nakadai is in as Chief Detective Tokura, and his input is most compelling of all while the remaining cast play their roles sincerely.

On an overall scale, High and Low is one of the best police procedural crime dramas that deserves to be ranked amongst Akira Kurosawa's most accomplished works. A masterpiece of first-rate storytelling & top-notch craftsmanship that finds its creator in complete control of his craft, it is a gripping, entertaining & immensely satisfying cinema that only gets better as the plot progresses. An unexpectedly memorable cinematic experience, High and Low is one classic I have no hesitation in recommending to every film lover out there.

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