If one were to calculate the number of masterpieces by cinema’s greatest directors, perhaps only Hitchcock would outnumber Akira Kurosawa. While he’s best known for period films such as Seven Samurai, High and Low, released in 1963, though not as widely seen, is undisputedly the work of a master.

Indeed, the film has many Hitchockian touches (it’s based on a novel by Hitchcock collaborator Ed McBain). Part intimate kidnapping drama, part police procedural, it’s also a scathing social commentary.

It opens with Toshiro Mifune fighting for control of his company and never lets up. Like Stewart and Hitchcock, Mifune is Kurosawa’s onscreen counterpart, and he gives a staggering performance here.

Grade: A

High and Low is currently available.