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High and Low is a portrait of a virtuous industrialist who is targeted for destruction by a nihilistic criminal who hails from the professional rather than the working class and is motivated not by need but by envy and pure malice.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say he’s virtuous. To a large degree, Kingo Gondo(Toshiro Mifune) was compelled to do the ‘right thing’. If he has something in common with the kidnapper(named Takeuchi and played by Tsutomu Yamazaki), it is neither character truly understands himself — ultimately, both are driven by emotions than moral reasoning though, to be sure, whereas Takeuchi had all the time in the world to plan the crime(like Gondo with his secret plot to take over the company), time is running out for Gondo to either pay the ransom or finalize his takeover, a classic ‘gain the world, lose the soul’ situation. Gondo does the moral thing, but he’s not really sure what drove him to it. And even though the criminal later tries to justify or explain himself, he doesn’t really know his own heart(or lack of one). After all, the economic argument isn’t very compelling on