Kensuke Sonomura’s Baddo shiti (Bad City) is a Japanese retro gangster action picture, favouring fists and knives over guns in a series of impressive skirmishes, brawls and all-out battles. It has a simple sense of morality but a complicated plot – the evil Gogo corporation exerts a stranglehold over run-down Kaiko City, using political connections to dodge any corruption charges, and a long-haired, toothpick-chewing, knife-fighting hit man (Tak Sakaguchi) is causing trouble between Japanese yakuza and Korean mafia clans as part of a scheme to consolidate power. Tough cop Torada (Hitoshi Ozawa), framed for the murder of a Korean gang heir, is sprung from jail and put in charge of a task force to clean up the city and bring down the corporate big bads … which he does basically by fighting with almost everyone. His krewe consists of a couple of veteran male officers and a female rookie, who are more or less comical – except when they’re repeatedly getting kicked in the head while wrestling with three or four thugs at the same time. Among the colourful minor characters are a couple of women who have made their way in the cutthroat male business of running the criminal and civil service sides of the city – Madame (Rino Katase), a chic Korean boss who still wants revenge on Torada, and Koizumi (Mitsu Dan), smartly-dressed and manipulative director of public safety. As expected, one of the heroes dies to further motivate the others, an apparent ally is really in with the villains, a lot of food and sake is consumed in bonding sessions between battles, and a gangster or two come over to the good guys’ side – but the plotting is strictly subsidiary to the impressive, unending punch-ups and beat-downs. It’s exhausting but entertaining.
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