What if I instructed you there’s an motion franchise that outmatches maximum of its festival, even supposing it’s slightly identified outdoor of its local Japan? What if I instructed you its complete thought rests at the concept of turning well-liked J-pop singers into professional opponents who can ship each celebrity energy and martial-arts kinetics with equivalent air of mystery?
Good fortune was once constructed into the DNA of the HiGH&LOW sequence. However even with a good portion of the franchise now on Netflix, it’s arduous to grasp the place to begin or what’s occurring, given the sequence’ scope. This information must lend a hand.
HiGH&LOW is a multimedia franchise that started out as Top&Low: The Tale of S.W.O.R.D., a two-season TV drama initiated through the extremely well-liked, a hit EXILE TRIBE, a collective of J-pop artists based through the EXILE boys band. Motion-packed and ambitiously scripted, the TV sequence objectives at making a wealthy, detailed global of gang rivalries, concord, damaged loyalties, felony conspiracies, or even a marginally of capitalist greed. Officially talking, it endeavors to be concurrently character-driven and action-driven, with a dizzying choice of characters crossing paths and continuously converting the path of the narrative, in addition to — that is vital — breathtaking motion scenes that show off world-class stunts and provoking digicam paintings. Extra on that during a minute.
The TV sequence was once expanded right into a multi-format franchise that incorporates manga, a better half e book, an anime, a cell sport, studio albums, concert events, and a sequence of movies. Netflix got all seven motion pictures from the franchise for quite a few global markets, together with the US and the UK.
Why must you watch it?
Let’s move directly to the purpose: in case you experience gazing motion cinema in any capability, you owe it to your self to offer the HiGH&LOW franchise a check out. The rival gangs that inhabit this global spend part their time embroiled in sprawling persona drama, and the opposite part scuffling with ferociously to handle regulate in their territory, proper wrongs, or avenge their buddies.
The tale facilities round 5 city gangs jointly known as S.W.O.R.D.:
Sannoh Rengokai Hoodlum Squad
Oya Top College
Those gangs took regulate of various portions in their unnamed town (known as “S.W.O.R.D. Town” through the lovers) after the mythical Mugen gang was once disbanded, following an unsettled feud with the indomitable, mysterious Amamiya brothers. All the time at the verge of all-out conflict, the gangs handle a delicate steadiness that may be compromised even through minor occasions. The Kuryu Crew, a perilous yakuza group, sees the void left through Mugen as a chance to grab regulate of the area and get started shady real-estate tasks that may dramatically adjust the face of town. Naturally, this being a franchise created through J-Pop artists, song has a distinct position within the motion pictures, with a devoted identify track for each and every faction.
Of their many clashes and their efforts to withstand the yakuza’s intrusions, the 5 gangs get into epic, bold, occasionally completely mind-blowing fights. The solid of J-Pop singer-dancers aren’t skilled martial artists, however they put within the paintings to make it seem like scuffling with is 2nd nature. The usage of drones and elaborately choreographed Steadicam photographs, the directing staff led through Sigeaki Kubo have significantly crafted unmatched one-takes – unbroken monitoring photographs that practice the opponents anyplace they move, alternate focal point and views freely, and make it sort of feels just like the digicam evolves, irrespective of gravity’s constraints, in dense and sundry units.
In an generation the place motion films repeatedly try to wow the target market with ever extra complicated photographs and oners, the HiGH&LOW staff were perfecting the artwork, rhythm, tempo, and science of dynamic and repeatedly evolving monitoring photographs since their first season, attaining new heights in the newest motion pictures. In maximum different films and sequence, all these photographs come upon issues corresponding to broadly asymmetric pacing, repetition, or boring setups.
Operating with proficient motion choreographer Takahito Ôuchi, major franchise director Sigeaki Kubo solved these kind of problems through continuously and seamlessly shaking issues up. The digicam may all of sudden soar 30 ft into the air, then move backtrack once more a couple of seconds later. Audience are taken via holes and damaged home windows, over partitions, hurled in the course of the fray, and spun round via dazzling, dizzying digicam actions. Discreet virtual transitions be certain the appearance of unbrokenness is maintained each time bodily continuity is logistically unattainable. The power and scenography are world-class.
The object with motion one-takes is that it’s important to edit with out chopping. When you have two other folks fist-fighting and not using a alternate in surroundings, lighting fixtures, or digicam motion, it turns into dull rapid. Ôuchi and Kubo try for various techniques of creating their signature one-takes extra dynamic, extra crowd pleasing, and extra involving on a sensory stage. The effects aren’t all the time highest, however they undoubtedly are bold and thrilling.
Takahito Ôuchi was once the stunt coordinator at the Rurouni Kenshin trilogy, action-directed Black Butler and Ajin: Demi-Human, and labored on motion pictures corresponding to Flash Level, Bodyguards & Assassins, and Crows 0. The latter, a cult motion movie directed through unstoppable Eastern director Takashi Miike, probably had a robust affect at the huge brawls that the HiGH&LOW franchise is understood for. Incessantly, there are such a lot of opponents in all corners of the display, it must be simple for attentive audience to identify background extras who’re not sure of what they’re doing. Within the town of S.W.O.R.D., despite the fact that, no person’s slacking.
However the franchise isn’t a one-trick motion pony. Kubo gives quite a lot of selection past the prestigious one-takes, which make up a tiny fraction of the motion. The films come with unmarried struggle, large battles, and automotive chases. The tale is steeped in legendary undertones: the previous holds energy over the characters, the Amamiya brothers are noticed as mythical figures surrounded through thriller, and a “samurai” even displays up in a considerable function regardless of the trendy city surroundings. And police? What police? That is the arena of J-pop boy-band singers and dancers became fatal opponents. Call to mind it as a mythology for lately’s formative years.
The place to begin?
As discussed, Netflix got the rights to the seven motion pictures within the franchise, however to not the unique TV sequence. Don’t be troubled, despite the fact that: the primary movie is named Highway to HiGH&LOW, and is an edit of the 2 seasons condensed into feature-film period. This recap isn’t the most efficient level of access into the franchise, despite the fact that, because of the density of the guidelines it conveys and the truth that it isn’t a real movie. Freshmen must skip this one in the beginning and are available again to it later in the event that they turn into lovers of the sequence. Right here’s a extra understandable and rewarding viewing order.
1. HiGH&LOW THE MOVIE (2016)
The primary genuine movie of the franchise features a small recap of earlier occasions at the start, so no worries, you’ll be able to dive proper in and get started playing the trip right away. The tale facilities round a former Mugen chief who’s satisfied through the Korean mafia to aspect with the Kuryu yakuza staff to take regulate of town. All 5 S.W.O.R.D. gangs come in combination to prevent them, or even the mythical Amamiya brothers sign up for the struggle.
Spotlight: The insane all-gang combat about two-thirds of the way in which in introduces new audience to the logistical and technical wonders achieved through the filmmaking staff. A exceptional instance of managed chaos on display, it reaches its pinnacle with a minute-long monitoring shot that defies gravity as the hand held digicam all of sudden leaps up, then comes backtrack once more. Stay an eye fixed out for the general two-vs.-one struggle as properly, an excellent show off of the actors’ bodily dedication.
2. HiGH&LOW THE RED RAIN (2016)
The primary spin-off film of the franchise is devoted to the Amamiya brothers. Within the movie, Masaki and Hiroto move in search of their elder brother Takeru, who mysteriously disappeared over a 12 months in the past. Their seek reveals secrets and techniques from their previous. Much less action-oriented than the principle trilogy (the general motorbike chase is truly nice, despite the fact that), the movie is nonetheless compelling if the characters from the primary film piqued your interest. It’s additionally odd and thrilling to peer director Yūdai Yamaguchi, identified for his splatter paintings with motion pictures corresponding to Battlefield Baseball, Meatball Gadget, Yakuza Weapon, and Deadball, check out his hand at a wholly other style.
Spotlight: Yūdai Yamaguchi for sure has an eye fixed for framing and putting pictures, and the scene of the brothers mourning in entrance of a damaged statue in torrential rain is most certainly one probably the most emotionally and visually efficient that the style has to supply, J-pop ballad integrated.
If the ones first two motion pictures have you ever hooked and you wish to have to grasp the entirety concerning the characters, you have to doubtlessly return and watch the sequence recap Highway to HiGH&LOW now. It’s for completists most effective, despite the fact that it stays one of the best ways to get conversant in the TV display, which is another way most effective to be had on pricey, unsubtitled DVD field units, which it’s important to import from Japan.
3. HiGH&LOW THE MOVIE 2 / END OF SKY (2017)
As a number of gangs face inner crises and are at the verge of disappearing, the Kuryu Crew pursues its plan to construct a on line casino within the S.W.O.R.D. house. No longer prepared to let corrupt capitalism remove their way of living, the gangs try to carry to mild the bribes some politicians were taking from the yakuza. Ensue exhilarating chases and cruel gang battles.
Spotlight: I may spend 3 paragraphs making a song the praises of but some other breathtaking monitoring shot, however you already know what? That chase between the Amamiya brothers and the “samurai”-like murderer Genji Kuki actually is one thing else!
4. HiGH&LOW THE MOVIE 3 / FINAL MISSION (2017)
The Kuryu Crew, in poor health and uninterested in seeing their plans thwarted through a host of teenage-faced troublemakers, collude with the federal government to remove all 5 gangs as soon as and for all. The overall combat for the destiny of S.W.O.R.D. town starts.
Spotlight: The belief to the principle trilogy takes the play on vertical digicam actions to extremes all through its one-take scene, switching flooring, hiking partitions, and leaping off them. A masterclass in make an ever-evolving and attractive struggle scene that provides equivalent significance to the what and the how (i.e., the choreography and the digicam paintings).
5. DTC -Yukemuri Junjou Chicken- from HiGH&LOW (2018)
Take a genuinely-earned ruin from motion motion pictures with the franchise’s 2nd spin-off, its sole incursion within the comedy style. DTC is a gentle, endearing street film that specializes in 3 individuals of the Sannoh Rengokai Hoodlum Squad after the occasions of the general project. It incorporates no motion scenes in anyway, so skip it in case you’re within the sequence only for that, however in case you turn into invested in the ones characters, this movie offers them suitable area to respire and develop.
6. HiGH&LOW THE WORST (2019)
The newest by-product is a crossover match film between the Oya Top College gang of HiGH&LOW and the antisocial Housen Academy of the Crows/Worst manga universe created through Hiroshi Takahashi. Within the movie, the 2 gangs turn into competitors and have interaction in an epic combat.
Spotlight: The Eastern high-school brawl to finish all Eastern high-school brawls takes position across the midway mark, and oh boy, does it ship! Its anticipated one-take reaches stratospheric ranges of impossibly cool glide and effort. Until you’re already keen on this sequence, you’ve by no means noticed the rest find it irresistible.
The HiGH&LOW movie sequence is now streaming on Netflix.