Sunday, March 20, 2011

#318: High and Low

1963, TSPDT Rank #325

Parts of this film are so brilliant, so suspenseful, and so obviously trail-blazing and influential that's it's a shame that as a whole it doesn't exactly achieve what it should. For today's jaded audiences, with many similarly done kidnapping/ransom movies behind us, we need to put the release date into context to realize what an original kind of film this was. The first half is excellent, an unbeatable ransom dilemma - complete with the most intense shower I have ever seen, courtesy of Toshiro Mifune, and an expertly shot and edited dropoff scene from a train. However, roughly the next hour really loses momentum for the film, as Mifune's explosive (or implosive?) presence is out of the picture for far too long, and the action switches to straight technically adept but dramatically hollow police procedural, that is rather clumsily handled by Kurosawa. But he picks it up for a dynamite ending reel that rattles your bones and abruptly comes to a stop. Worth watching and taking 143 minutes for, but not perfect, no matter how much you might wish it were.

(Rating: 8/10)

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