Akira Kurosawa’s detective drama High And Low is being set up for an English language version with Mike Nichol’s in the director’s chair, David Mamet on screenplay duties and Martin Scorsese serving as executive producer. Scorsese had originally started work on a remake of the film in 1999, but was stymied from moving forward for years due to rights issues.
Kurosawa’s 1963 film was based on Evan Hunter’s 1959 detective novel King’s Ransom. In it, a business executive, longtime Kurosawa collaborator Toshiro Mifune, prepares to be a large ransom for his kidnapped son only to discover that it was actually his chauffeur’s son who was abducted. He is left with the moral dilemma of using the money to save his employee’s son or for its original purpose of a crucial corporate buyout.
While most remakes and English-language adaptations of foreign films have that “Let’s make a quick buck” stink to them, no such whiff seems to emanate from this project. Scorsese has previously adapted another foreign language film, turning Andrew Lau’s Infernal Affairs into The Departed and in the process managed to preserve the essence of of the original. I think that lightening can strike twice in this case.