A jailed cop is released to lead a crack unit against a corrupt businessman in this bone-crunching dust-up starring V-cinema legend Hitoshi Ozawa.
Fans of Japan’s bountiful direct-to-video V-Cinema industry will be no strangers to the grizzled features and ultra-cool charisma of Hitoshi Ozawa. A regular fixture in the films of Takashi Miike, Ozawa just turned 60, but has lost none of his speed, agility, or skill for taking out swathes of yakuza goons with a single bloodied fist. Writer and star of BAD CITY, Ozawa tears through the underworld of Kaiko City, as disgraced Detective Torada, wrongfully imprisoned for murder but now given temporary parole to lead a special off-the-books unit. Pulling together an elite squad of trustworthy cops, Torada goes after Lily Franky’s slippery businessman, Gojo, who announces his intentions to run for mayor. Gojo’s underworld associations with both the yakuza and the Korean mafia trigger a bloody turf war that descends into a series of deadly street brawls, with Torada and his team slap band in the middle. Helmed by veteran stunt coordinator Kensuke Sonomura, who has choreographed action for John Woo, Donnie Yen, Mamoru Oshii, and Yudai Yamaguchi, to name just a few, BAD CITY opens as a swaggering gangster saga bristling with high-level corruption, but soon escalates into an endless series of breathless fistfights that rank with the very best the genre has to offer. Eagle-eyed viewers will spy Fantastic Fest veteran Tak Sakiguchi (VERSUS, YAKUZA WEAPON) as a silent but deadly assassin, but the true star of the show is undeniably Ozawa, who even now, as a bus pass wielding senior citizen, explodes off the screen like a junkyard pit bull of untethered ferocity. (JAMES MARSH)