High and Low

High and Low ★★★★

My first non-samurai Kurosawa film. Kurosawa does his samurai movies exceptionally well, so stupidly enough I was unsure whether I would dig this as much as his other films. Needless to say I was very wrong, and this was stelllllaaarrrr.

The visuals really popped on this one, as most Kurosawa films I have seen have been on shitty streaming sites. Luckily I had the privilege of watching this one on blu-ray and boy was it gorgeous. The lighting in this film is pretty fantastic, and the use of deep space is amazing in many shots. High and Low moves at a reserved pace but it is never boring. Kurosawa regular Toshiro Mifune is brilliant as per usual. He has such a detailed understanding of how to act which is seen in all of his subtleties, in his posture, expressions and the way he moves in a scene. High and Low is such a captivating and intense story, and this film engrosses you by advancing plot points at a steady pace, making you impatiently eager to see what will happen next. Kurosawa knows when and how to fill a moment with intensity with sudden camera movement and use of close-ups, contrasted by the use of long shots and long takes to create tension and anticipation. The last third of the film is riveting and has some of the best sequences I have seen in a Kurosawa film. The editing is pretty great using many now popular techniques that were not so popular at the time of its release. There is a single moment that color is used which is pretty nifty. This film is not just an interesting crime film, but throughout there are themes of class and morality and these themes are represented perfectly through the dialogue and mise-en-scene. Having the main characters house up high on a mountain and the villains to be down in the valley is a brilliant and symbolic choice. Originally titled Heaven and Hell, which does place more emphasis on the themes of morality, whereas High and Low represents the themes of class. I have 2 very small complaints and that is that one scene ends super abruptly, and there are sooooo many wipe transitions. I hateeee wipe transitions. These flaws didn't frustrate me too much obviously, but nonetheless they were there. But yeah, Kurosawa films have so much to pick up on and there's no way I can touch on all of it. In the end, High and Low is an intense crime drama, that will have you captivated all throughout and riveted in the scenes during the climax. Brilliant in its craft, and intelligent in its themes. This film has solidified my belief for Kurosawa to be one of the best.

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