Thursday, May 8, 2014

High and Low (Tengoku to jigoku) (1963)

Director: Akira Kurosawa. Cast: ToshirĂ´ Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai, Takashi Shimura. 143 min. Not Rated. Japan. Crime/Mystery.

Adapted from the brilliant Ed McBain crime novel, "King's Ransom", Kurosawa's thriller is almost cut in half: the first half a humanistic dilemma about whether a millionaire shoe-factory-owner-to-be will sacrifice his entire wealth to save his chauffeur's kidnapped son; and the second half a police procedural about the effort to find the kidnapper. The first half is breath-taking; the second half boring. The first half includes Toshiro Mifune as the millionaire; the second half almost devoid of his presence. Amazing how one great actor can change the game, even in a great director's movie.

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