MPieper’s review published on Letterboxd:
Me through the first two thirds of this: "This is quite good! Though, is it really going to live up to a 4.5 ra...?"
The club sequence: "Yo."
Me from that point on: 😮😮😮😮😮😮😮
At least in my limited viewing, this has got to be the undisputed procedural of its era and the defining one for eras to come, displaying an interest in the granular realities of crime that is tenfold that of any of detective or legal film that came out of Hollywood midcentury. In this way, did this movie begin to trailblaze a new subgenre? Idk, you tell me.
Class disparity and moral reckonings form the backdrop for one heck of a thriller, yes, but they are also the strongest focal points of the film. The story notably and almost universally features forms of capital that are contingent: a dowry, a loan, a ransom, company shares, etc. Wealth or its lack is fickle, vaporific, skittish. And this leads to, as Kurosawa shows, a world of only two economic extremes, rich and poor, "high" and "low", and a world where morality and immorality alike are supercharged in their ability to transport a person to either lot. In High and Low, capital crushes the poor and curses the wealthy, and refuses unfettered moral living and reasoning to both, even as it makes moral living and reasoning more vital than ever.
One of the cardinal anti-money films.
But that club sequence though???? And then the alley???? That's just stright up visual desert time, thank you Chef Kurosawa.