It’s fascinating to watch a film about the police searching for criminal guns while living in a country where the ubiquity of guns is a constant national conversation. It’s something I think about a lot while watching foreign films, really: “This would be over so much faster in America, since everyone would just shoot each other.” A gangster acquiring guns so the police can seem like they’re being tough on crime? That’s weird as heck to an American. It also has the potential to be a very interesting glimpse into a very different culture, especially when the film is ostensibly inspired by a real person.
However, I’ve noticed a tendency in lesser films inspired by real people to gloss over crucial points about the character’s development. “It’s fine,” the film seems to say. “He’s real, so just believe that this is how it happened.” Twisted Justice is full of these moments. Every single skip forward in time feels arbitrary and like a crutch that absolved the creative team of needing to really think about why the characters are the way they are. By skipping to The Future, relationships have been already been forged and you as the audience just have to deal with it.
And many of the scenes that are chosen really feel like the wrong ones, like they took a biography and randomly chose the least interesting chapters and created a film based on that. The film has a massive misogyny problem, but that feels like one of those circular points that a “real” film set decades ago would need to be misogynistic to accurately represent a misogynistic culture. I get that, but it doesn’t have to be so gleeful about it. There are some really intense scenes punctuated by violence against women that don’t serve any other purpose than to remind you that you’re watching a film about bad guys. That’s not an interesting character trait, and it’s not an interesting way to build a character.
I know that, as I watched it, there were moments in Twisted Justice where I was enjoying myself, but it’s also fully 45 minutes too long, and the longer I mull it over, the less and less those moments stand out. Instead, I’m just left with a general feeling of disdain. The film simply doesn’t do the material, um, justice.
[This review is being posted as part of our coverage of the 2016 New York Asian Film Festival, which is running in New York from June 22th through July 9th. Find out more information here and keep up with all our coveragehere.]
Twisted Justice (日本で一番悪い奴ら)
Director: Kazuya Shiraishi