High and Low or Stray Dog are extraordinary dramas brilliantly acted, beautifully shot with some stunning visual sequences with only music or incidental sounds. High and Low is one of the best films I have ever seen. I watched it twice and each viewing was a new revelation. Drunken Angel and The Bad sleep well were not quite as gripping but still worth watching.
Film Noir.. it's just an American thing, right? Well, show how wrong that assumption is with this stunning set of 4 decidedly Noir ish films. High and Low tells the story of a kidnapping and the responses to it. The first half shows the effect on people concerned when a company executive's son is snatched for ransom.. only they got the wrong kid.. they got his playmate - the chauffeurs son. How will everyone react? The second half is a gripping police procedural.
If you are a fan of Akira Kurosawa (which if you are a movie buff, it's hard not to be...), you don't want to miss the 4 films in this Crime Collection. They are UNIQUE cinematographic works... almost, sometimes, like being in a fine arts museum and watching "moving paintings", such is the director's care with each frame. I also consider the packaging outstanding... I have read the descriptions of each movie many times before and after watching the film, and they have definitely enhanced my understanding.
As a loving owner of BFI's Kurosawa's Samurai Collection, I was keen to get my hands on his Crime Collection.
Compared to the Samurai set, which is a good bit cheaper and in which you get more films, this one's value for money is less. Amazon (at time of purchase) had it cheapest that I could find and the way I compared it was to cost the four films as individual DVDs. Also, I had only seen Drunken Angel (1948) on VHS a few years ago and wanted to see it again properly. The other three I hadn't. Therefore I was going to get full value from it.
The others included are Stray Dog (1949), The Bad Sleep Well (1960) and High & Low (1963). At least 3 of the 4 are very well acclaimed, both publicly and critically.
As we can expect from a BFI box-set, it is impeccably presented in its signature black and white and comes with a card outer sleeve. It opens up with two discs on each side. The back has a neat summation on each film with plot, film lengths and ratios etc. Included is a rather nice booklet that includes quite comprehensive background info for each movie and still photos from the production company.
Nowhere in the literature can I find it saying that BFI have restored any of these films. Both late '40s films looked a bit greyer and flatter than those in the Samurai Collection, but those were made later. There was an occasional scratch line and flicker and the sound had a few minor crackles. With volume turned up quite loud hiss was well controlled. Generally, the transfers are good, bearing in mind their age, but not outstanding. The two later ones look better, whilst not perfect they had no noticeable blemishes.
I've reviewed all four films here separately, on Amazon, so for more details on each, please look under their individual titles.
If, like me, you've enjoyed Kurosawa's more well known classics and wish to explore him further, then getting this set is a natural progression and really worthwhile addition to any collector's DVD library.