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Tengoku to Jigoku "High and Low" - (1963) Directed by Akira Kurosawa

Starring Toshiro Mifune, Tatsuya Makadai, Kyoko Kagawa,

Tatsuya Mihashi

Location, Location

This crime-action suspense film plays against type from its opening scene right down to the literal closing. A wealthy businessman in the shoe making industry faces conflict when he realizes that the kidnapper who kidnapped his song has made a mistake. The kidnapper, has in fact abducted the child of his driver. Kingo Gondo must now decide if he should pay the ransom as he most certainly would've when he believed it was his own son who was taken.

Most of the action and investigation happens off screen, us, the viewers are then briefed by report updates or information exchanged between characters. Similarly some of the more dramatic dialogue and exchange of words in the first half happen behind a group of people who are not involved in the argument. A living room full of embarrassed detectives stand forefront, awkwardly lowering their heads, as behind them Mr. and Mrs. Gondo argue about whether to pay the ransom or not.

Akira Kurosawa's plot to High and Low is full of moments like the aforementioned. And even when we see the kidnapper he doesn't speak until the final scenes. In fact, unlike most action films involving a kidnapping, there is no suspense directly involving the kidnapper himself. Instead, the suspense lies in the thrill of the hunt and tracking down the identity of the kidnapper, Ginjiro Takeuchi.

If I had more time today I would watch both Heat and The Dark Knight. A similar sense of intense search and a long postponed meeting between hero and villain is found in all three of these films. High and Low or Tengoku to Jigoku is also location rich, as the name implies from High to Low, we get a sense of a city from its wealthiest to its vulnerably dependent poor.

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