2023 Calgary Underground Film Festival: Bad City (2022)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joseph Perry writes for the film websites Gruesome Magazine, The Scariest Things, Horror Fuel and Diabolique Magazine; for the film magazines Phantom of the Movies’ VideoScope and Drive-In Asylum; and for the pop culture websites When It Was Cool and Uphill Both Ways. He is also one of the hosts of When It Was Cool’s exclusive Uphill Both Ways podcast and can occasionally be heard as a cohost on Gruesome Magazine’s Decades of Horror: The Classic Era podcast.

Practically Shakesperean in its sizable cast of characters and many subplots and twists, director Kensuke Sonomura’s Bad City is an absolute blast. Hitoshi Ozawa toplines as Torada, a detective who was set up by powerfully placed people with yakuza ties to be the suspect in the murder of a Korean gangster boss’s son. He is released temporarily to head up a secret, off-the-books trio of detectives from the Violent Crimes Unit to go after Gojo (Lily Franky), a criminal with political aspirations.

There’s intrigue galore between the cops, the yakuza, and the Korean gangsters, too much to list here and that would be spoiling things, anyway. Go in cold, knowing that you will be treated to some of the more realistic looking fight scenes in recent memory. They are choreographed, of course, but in such a manner that some fights have a real-life, somewhat deliberately sloppy look to them as opposed to looking like a well-rehearsed dance routine. And you shouldn’t get too attached to any of the protagonists.

Bad City boasts an engaging story, captivating performances, crackerjack direction, and all sorts of action, including fisticuffs, martial arts, knife fights, and gunplay. Aficionados of Asian crime cinema should consider this one required viewing.

Bad City screens as part of Calgary Underground Film Festival, which takes place in Calgary, Canada from April 20–30.


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