A wealthy shoe tycoon plans to take over the company, and things go wrong. Intrigued?...me neither.
I watched this movie expecting a mediocre showing from my favorite director, but what I got was a wonderfully done film with a lot to say.
Toshiro Mifune plays Kingo Gondo, a successful shoe tycoon with dated ideas. He believes that shoes are important because they support the entire weight of the body, while his partners just want to produce cheap stylish shoes that women will buy over and over. His partners want to vote him out of power, so Gondo comes up with a plan to buy enough of the company so he can sway the vote. Things go wrong when a man calls and says he has kiddnapped Gondo's son and he'll need to pay an amount of money, nearly equal to what he needs to keep himself in the company, he cooperates right away, but he finds out that the kiddnapper made a mistake and has kiddnapped his driver's son instead.
what follows is a interesting look into the process of catching a criminal and a study on the social structure of japan (one of Kurosawa's favorite subjects). What makes this movie stand out is the fact that it is not exagerated, the process of solving the crime seems long and drawn out, yet it still manages to hold your attention. Another interesting detail is the fact that Mifune owns a shoe company, in most kidnapping movies, the target is some rich AND famous person. Gondo, while rich, is certainly not famous, he is basically a glorified shoe salesmen, which makes the story that much more realistic.
Along with the kidnapping, the movie also focuses on the differences in classes. Gondo lives high on a lofty hill, while the kidnapper lives down with everybody else in the sweltering heat, hence the title high and low (or heaven and hell).
I'd recommend this movie to anyone who like crime dramas or japanese cinema.