High and Low, based on the novel by Evan Hunter
High and Low is a film directed by one of the geniuses of cinema, the celebrated filmmaker: Akira Kurosawa.
It is not as well known as:
Kagemusha, Ran, Stray Dog, Rashomon, Ikiru, Yojimbo or the Seven Samurai.
Nevertheless, High and Low was nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film in 1964.
Furthermore, this work is on The New York Times’ Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made list, which you have here:
The great Toshiro Mifune plays Kingo Gondo, a rather unconventional hero, for he has to change tune a few times.
To begin with, Kingo Gondo seems to be a strong, powerful man that is about to get control of the National Shoe Company.
He talks to other men who own shares in the company about the flawed products that he hates so much.
Gondo wants quality, but these other men are in this business for profit and they are not keen on other aspects.
A struggle to control the cash machine, as these villains see it, will ensue and the hero has a secret weapon.
He had started buying shares and his initial paltry share has increased to an impressive 48% or so.
With this, he has the votes to take over and lead the firm he obviously loves in the right, ethical direction.
Alas, in order to get the money to buy all those shares, Kingo Gondo is using all the collateral he has.
The house and everything else had been used in order to convince the banks to give him the funds.
In addition, a call comes as a thunderbolt and a man asks for thirty million yen to give Gondo is son back.
A strange twist has the son entering the room, after the panic had grabbed the parents and we realize he was not taken away.
The executive is pondering about this tasteless joke, when another phone call clears the issue of the blunder.
Isn’t this funny?
Regardless of the fact that I do not have your son, you still have to pay the money and you will.
After this message from the criminal, the hero has the moment when his frailty is in evidence, as well as his humanity.
He protests and says that he will not pay and it makes sense considering his destitution- if he pays the large sum, he will lose everything and will be finished, with the banks taking all he used to have.
It will not be just the company he was about to gain that will be gone, but the house and all other possessions.
Yet he decides to lose everything and try to save the boy’s life…
This exhilarating, if extremely painful, difficult decision makes Kingo Gondo a Superman and not a comic book one.
What follows is a very complex, intriguing payment of the ransom operation, followed by a difficult investigation by the police.
The criminal had accomplices that very soon die and bring the inquiry to a dead end and today’s viewer can smile at the rather primitive means that they had back then, but people have not always had smart phones that can be tracked, GPS systems and DNA testing, with so much more detective tools that are exhibited in 2018.
Even if fifty-four years old, this psychological, challenging drama is a meaningful work and it is a meaningful thriller.