“Bad City”

This film was screened at Fantastic Fest

“Bad City” is the type of gritty action film that has inspired fight scenes that are thrilling, but is eventually sabotaged by an overly complicated plot. This story of crime and corruption doesn’t hit any new or original high notes, and it’s an ultimately disappointing piece of Japanese cinema.

Kaiko City is rife with crime, festering under the weight of corrupt leaders and an active underworld. The degeneracy runs deep and rampant, especially when a businessman called Gojo decides to run for mayor so he can eliminate all opponents from the rival mafia. Former police captain Detective Torada (Hitoshi Ozawa), who is serving time for murder, is secretly released and put in charge of a special task force whose mission it is to arrest the true bad guys before it’s too late. The problem is that Gojo’s influence is widespread, which ignites a turf war between the Korean mafia and the yakuza. Torada and his charges wind up in the middle of a series of deadly brawls.

The film starts out with a jarring sequence of bloody violence, but that only serves as a hook for the audience. There’s plenty of action and eye-popping stunt choreography, but it’s mostly relegated to the back half of the film. The result is an uneven project that isn’t a whole lot of fun to watch, especially with the twisty, confusing, overwrought script. The plot is glutted to a fault, and the story is needlessly complex.

The action sequences are well thought out, especially the extended fight scene complete with lead pipes, baseball bats, knives, and corny sound effects (which I must assume was unintentional, because it’s not played for comedic effect). At some point, even the action begins to wear thin. There’s only so much combat one can take in a single sitting.

The film would prove to be more successful if it looked better visually. The film is not very cinematic and feels like an uninspired television crime procedural, right down to the choppy editing, second-rate direction (of the dramatic scenes), and flat original score. All of this makes “Bad City” akin to a mediocre series, but with a lot more bloody violence.

By: Louisa Moore

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