(director: Kensuke Sonomura; screenwriter: Hitoshi Ozawa; cinematographer: Moritada Iju; editor: ; music: ; cast: Hitoshi Ozawa (Torada), Akane Sakanoue ( Megumi Nohara), Katsuya (Kumamoto Satoshi), Masanori Mimoto (Nishizaki), Lily Franky (Waturu Gojo), Yoshiyuki Yamaguchi (Kim Kazuyoshi), Hideto Katsuya (Lt. Satoshi Kumamoto), Tak Sakaguchi (Hari), Koizumi (Dan Mitsu), Rino Katase (Madame); Runtime: 118; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Hitoshi Ozawa; A Well-Go USA; 2022-Japan-in Japanese & Korean with English subtitles)

“If you can dig a film solely for its choreographed action stunts, you will go bonkers over this messy flick.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The Japanese fight choreographer (filmed and performed the stunt scenes) turned director Kensuke Sonomura (“Hydra”) and the venerable 60-year-old writer and star of the film Hitoshi Ozawa give us a powerful homage retro 80s styled straight-to-video action film(known in the trade as V-Cinema) about what’s up in the crime-filled and impoverished fictional city of Kaiko City, Japan.

After the corrupt chairman of the Gojo conglomerate, Waturu Gojo (Lily Franky), is acquitted of bribery and collusion charges because he has pull with the prosecutors and key politicians, at the press conference announces he will no longer hold his corporate position but will run for mayor of Kaiko City. He vows to stop the violence and make the city great, but is a lifelong crook backed by the shadowy criminal cartel and returns to his criminal ways.

While running for office Gojo starts going after his Mafia rivals and eliminating them. This alarms the honest chief of prosecutors Hirayama (Misaya Kato) and he orders Koizumi (Dan Mitsu) to form a secret special investigation division that has four members, three cops in service and one former cop in prison: Lt. Satoshi Kumamoto (Hideto Katsuya), Ryota Nishizaki (Masanori Mimoto), Lt. Megumi Nohara (Akane Sakanoue), and a captain serving prison time for being suspected of murdering the son of a Korean mob boss, Makoto Torada (Hitoshi Ozawa), who is secretly released from prison and put in charge of stopping Gojo.

The action scenes are well-staged and electric, while the simple story about greed is only passable as it hinges around all the fight scenes.

The white-haired Torada uses his fighting skills to take down Gojo’s long-haired mafioso accomplice, Kim Seung-gi (Yoshiyuki Yamaguchi). He also confronts the athletic knife-wielding assassin played adeptly by Takas Sakaguchi, who works for the sordid Korean mob boss (Rino Katase), as the action is dazzling. Prior to that Tak took care of a bathhouse of lushly tattooed yakuza with his blade work.

If you can dig a film solely for its choreographed action stunts, you will go bonkers over this messy flick. Its sardonic theme is that “Beating up a bad guy is justice.”

It played at the Fantastic Fest.

REVIEWED ON 7/29/2023  GRADE: B +