Whenever I’ve talked to my action movie-loving buddies about my favorite action movies of 2022, whether it’s The Way of Water, Athena, or RRR, the answer has been a resounding: “But have you seen Bad City?” I’ve been anxiously awaiting the Japanese movie’s stateside release ever since its domestic release in July 2022 led to an avalanche of praise among the action faithful, and the new trailer ahead of its Aug. 1 digital release shows exactly why.
What looks like a standard crime thriller about vigilante justice and gang warfare jumps off the screen because of director Kensuke Sonomura’s kinetic, immersive action. After a long career of stunt work and action direction (including John Woo’s Manhunt), Sonomura recently made more waves in Japanese action cinema for his thrilling feature debut Hydra and his work on the excellent action in the very fun Baby Assassins (one of Polygon’s favorite movies of 2022). But without even knowing it, you might know him best from his work in the video game industry.
Sonomura was the action coordinator on games like Devil May Cry 4, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Vanquish, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, and 2020’s Resident Evil 3. He’s one of the brightest emerging stars in action cinema, and shows how the visual language of action can translate from video games to movies (and vice versa).
Bad City stars long-time action star Hitoshi Ozawa (who you may recognize from roles in Yakuza 0 and Like a Dragon: Ishin!), Akane Sakanoue (Alice in Borderland), and Tak Sakaguchi (Versus). It takes place in the fictional crime-ridden city of Kaiko, and follows a former police officer freed from jail in a last-ditch attempt to save the city from corruption and organized crime.
Bad City will be available digitally on Aug. 1, with a physical release slated for Sept. 19.