High and Low

High and Low ★★★★

High and Low is a blast from the past. As an old school crime thriller, it's clearly a two-parter. The first half centers on the psychological back-and-forth between the victim's family and the kidnapper, with our millionaire protagonist constantly grappling with moral choices in agony. Toshiro Mifune, Akira Kurosawa's muse and frequent collaborator, shined as usual, perfectly capturing the emotional strains such dilemma put on him, with his typical samurai regality and charisma. The whole segment was almost entirely shot in a single room, which greatly heightened the dramatic intensity of the viewing experience. Then the second half is almost purely dedicated to a suspenseful and detailed crime-solving procedural, with police force searching "high and low" for evidence and the potential perpetrator. It's arguably not as emotionally gripping as the first half, but the slow unraveling of the whole mystery is undoubtably intriguing.

As a philosophical think piece, High and Low may not be as cutting as Kurosawa's other masterpieces, but it's for sure an entertaining ride and a rich insight into the Japanese social ethos of its time.

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