Movie review: Bad City by Kensuke Sonomura

by Best-Japanese Team
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Film Synopsis:

Welcome to Kaiko City – a broken town filled with crime and corruption – where the financial corporations and even the prosecutors are rotten to the core and the mafia and Yakuza drag it even deeper into the depths of depravity.

The area is plagued by poverty and criminals rule the roost. When corrupt businessman Gojo, in collaboration with Korean crime boss, Kim Seung-gi, decides to run for mayor, they start a campaign of vicious violence, intent on eliminating every rival mob who get in their way – whatever it takes.

Violent crime investigation division believes there’s only one man who can bring down the evil criminals for good – Toroda (Ozawa) – a fallen police captain serving time for murder. When he’s secretly released from prison and put in charge of the special task force – all hell breaks loose.

With all-guns blazing and fearless determination, he’ll stop at nothing in his ruthless campaign to bring down the very evil that threatens not only the peace of the city but the very lives of everyone who resides there.

For epic street brawls, martial arts mayhem, gritty gangster storylines, electrifying action sequences and fantastic performances – pay a visit to this Bad City.

Bad City Trailer

Movie Review

Veteran stuntman turned director Kensuke Sonomura’s second foray into directing, following up from his 2019 assasin-thriller Hydra, is crime thriller Bad City. The film is a homage to Japan’s straight-to-video independent V-Cinema which provided directors like Hideo Nakata and Kiyoshi Kurosawa a platform to show their craft and brought J-horror and Yakuza movies to the forefront, as well as paving the way for directors like Takashi Miike.

Lily Franky Bad City

As you’ll see from the trailer, the city has been taken over by crime and there are only a handful of “good” guys to bring the city back into the light. There is the statement that “beating up a good guy is violence but beating up a bad guy is justice”, which gives an indication of what’s to come and with that it’s right into the bloody opening scene. You don’t see the face of the person at the centre of the violence, but it’s a swift and almost clinical takedown of guards outside a bathhouse full of tattooed Yakuza. This is followed by a cut to corrupt businessman Wataru Gojo (Lily Franky) announcing his decision to run as mayor and from there the story really begins. We soon see how deep the corruption goes and Gojo brazenly expressing how he’s untouchable even to Chief Prosecutor Hirayama. In retaliation, a top-secret special investigative task force is set up by Hirayama, with the sole task of finding incriminating evidence on Gojo so that he can be arrested and brought to justice.

Special task force Bad City

The storyline may not be compelling enough for some critics, but the acting and believable characters more than make up for it, especially if you’ve seen the cast before and can compare performances. Inspector Torada (Hitoshi Ozawa) is a 60-year old disgraced police captain who isn’t afraid to take anyone down, and believes there’s not so much of a difference between himself and the criminals he is chasing. His likeable team includes Kumamoto (Hideto Katsuya) and seasoned fighter Nishizaki (Masanori Mimoto). We then have smart but pretty green newbie Nohara (Akane Sakanoue) who soon turns out to be more reliable team member (perhaps a bit too quickly), and then there is Prosecution Officer Koizumu (Mitsu Dan) who leads the operation but still can’t forgive her old boss Torada for what happened in the past. Tak Sakaguchi stands out of course for being a terrifying and undefeatable assassin, while Lily Franky shines in his role as evil villain whether it’s orchestrating the public officials in his pocket or controlling the local gangs.

More than anything, it’s going to be the brilliantly choreographed fight scenes that you’ll remember. There are many and it would be interesting to know how many minutes of this film are dedicated to action scenes. If you like action, you’ll be in your comfort zone and while you can guess how things will go down, Sonomura changes up the pace, especially in the final fight scene between Torada and Kim Seung-gi (Yoshiyuki Yamaguchi). This is a drawn out fight that at times is raw and (pun intended) scrappy, and at times has the two opponents practically dancing around the other, with each trying to find a weak spot to gain the ultimate upper hand. However even after this last fight, there is still more action to come and one final double cross.

How to watch Bad City?

Bad City is available on digital from 101 Films from March 6th.

Hitoshi Ozawa

Movie Cast

Starring: Hitoshi Ozawa (Shoot My Darlin’, Boiling Point), Mitsu Dan (BraveStorm), Lily Franky (Shoplifters, Like Father, Like Son), Hideto Katsuya (Mrs. Scarlet Rose, Kamen Rider), Masanori Mimoto (Takashi Miike’s First Love, Bushido Man), Akane Sakanoue (Ultraman X), Tak Sakaguchi (Versus), Rino Katase (Tokyo Bordello) and Yoshiyuki Yamaguchi (Kamen Rider Kabuto: God Speed Love).

We hope you found this review helpful. If you’re looking for more Japanese movie reviews, please check out our review of Kiba: The Fangs of Fiction and Drive My Car.

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