Tengoku to jigoku

Tengoku to jigoku

High & low

DVD - 2008 | Japanese
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A botched kidnapping of a Japanese executive's son turns into a race-against-time.
Publisher: [United States] : Criterion Collection, 2008.
Edition: Special ed. Widescreen ed.
ISBN: 9781604650532
1604650532
Characteristics: 2 videodiscs (143 min.) : sd., b&w with color sequences ; 4 3/4 in.
Alternative Title: High and low

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r
Ron@Ottawa
Dec 04, 2018

This is one of lesser-known, and non-samurai films from director Kurosawa. It is an excellent detective story that also touches upon many aspects of human nature - humanity, jealousy, resilience and corporate greed. At over 140 minutes it may appear long. But once you get over the first 20 minutes or so of a slow-paced opening, you will be glued to the plot and its development. The methodical, though lengthy process which the large police team used to crack the kidnapping/murder case is totally engaging. The ending is absorbing and I almost felt sympathy for the culprit. The only defect of the disc is the B/W image area only occupies 1/4 of my TV screen, probably due to the age of the film. But the imagery is sharp, and the subtitles works well. I highly recommend it to any viewer who loves a good detective story that touches upon many areas of humanity.

m
ms_mustard
Feb 04, 2018

Mifune as a samurai-like businessman - vanquishing shoe crooks, scheming to take the company from the bad guys, and working to rescue a kidnapped boy. lots of Kurosawa suspense.

LPL_TraciB Aug 19, 2017

The emerging social, cultural, and economic divisions of a rapidly modernizing and westernized Japan are laid bare when a botched kidnapping plot presents a moral dilemma for a wealthy industrialist and an enduring mystery for the police. Subtle, humane, and intellectually engaging, the film is an exploration of the complexities faced by a society in a chaotic state of flux.

o
ofacertainage
Jun 26, 2017

Unfortunately Criterion blew it with the subtitles. White subtitles when so much of the background on which they appear means much of the dialog is unreadable. This makes the film hard to follow. It is also arguably too long.

d
dcb_0
Nov 21, 2016

Its Kurosawa plus Mifune! Nuff said!

o
OpusTheFowl
Sep 27, 2015

Not quite sure why everyone is gushing over this movie and the only way I can explain those great reviews is that people are watching it as if it's the 1960's now. Sadly, most modern crime dramas for the last 20 years have better scripts which makes this look very clunky and slow. The motive was weak, the secondary cast mostly pointless and overall running length somewhat painful at 143 minutes. I did enjoy approximately the first half but as there is a fair bit of "who done it" guessing but after that it was mostly tedious. In the end this is more a movie to reinforce cultural stereotypes and behavior.

The translation is horrible too as my wife who is Japanese laughed many times thought-out the movie as what was being sad and what was written in the subs was pretty off. The Japanese title is "Heaven and Hell" which is more suited than "high and Low".

I'm sure this was a thrill 50 year ago...now? Not so much...

NewYorkViews May 17, 2015

Excellent 1960s crime drama in artistic b/w and shade contrast style, excellent acting, cast, and script--the main character moves from a corporate executive losing everything to a kidnapper, to the chief detective trying to solve with his unit, the increasingly complex crime. Interesting portrayal of Japanese women and Japanese culture during that time period. Suspenseful and some surprises.

n
Nursebob
Dec 13, 2014

When the board of directors of a major shoe company announce plans to cut costs by turning out substandard merchandise, Gondo, a frustrated executive, mortgages everything he owns in order to buy enough stock to vote them down. But before he can finalize his purchase tragedy strikes; the 9-year old son of his longtime chauffeur is abducted and the kidnapper is demanding an outrageous ransom or he will kill him. When the chauffeur turns to Gondo for help the businessman is faced with a near impossible choice; paying the money will leave him in financial ruin, doing nothing will result in the death of a child. Thus burdened, the hitherto conscientious Gondo must face a side of himself both terrifying and humbling. His final decision, and the events it sets in motion, makes for an intense police thriller which touches on issues of corporate inhumanity, social inequality, and the dehumanizing effects of the capitalist mindset. Glaring newspaper headlines provide some irony while a brief stint in a heroin den seems more like a zombie nightmare. Beautifully filmed, tightly directed, and not one minute of its 2-1/2 hour running time wasted. A classic in every sense.

p
pokano
Jan 10, 2014

Blown away by this Kurosawa thriller, which will have you on the edge of your seat the entire movie. The story centers around the kidnapping of a boy the kidnapper thinks is the son of a wealthy business executive (the great Toshiro Mifune). In fact, the kid is the son of his chauffeur. Mifune must decide whether to pay the ransom, which will ruin him, or forever be held up to ridicule and scorn. The second half of the film is devoted to the police investigation, led by the also great actor, Tatsuya Nakadai. A whole stable of Kurosawa regulars in the acting corps. A great movie.

r
rhys33
Aug 22, 2013

I'm in agreement with a previous reviewer. This movie has to be one of the best thrillers ever. Perhaps the best. Great window into 1960s Japanese culture, and definately not dated at all. In fact, it seems innovative and fresh almost 50 years after its release.

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