Ken And Kazu


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Ken And Kazu
"The territory feels familiar and the high cliche level holds this thriller back from being as gripping as it should"

Crystal meth crime melodrama Ken & Kazu is expanded from the short of the same name by writer/director Hiroshi Shoji and shows plenty of potential even if it is not quite fully realised.

Pace is certainly not a problem as he quickly introduces us to the double K of title, childhood buddies who have expanded into the drugs trade. Ken (Shinsuke Kato) is the more rational - yet virtually as violent when called upon - half of the pairing, while Kazu (Katsuya Maiguma) has a hair trigger. We're immediately immersed in their relationship as they, along with their educationally challenged and desperate-to-please buddy Teru (Kisetsu Fujiwara), rout a gang who have been encroaching on their boss's turf.

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Shoji doesn't hold back - this is not a 'gun movie' but one where violence is brute force and brutal, a bloody intimacy that is shared between assailant and victim and which the director makes sure we hunker in close to see. But these men who have for so long pulled together are starting to twist apart. Ken has a pregnant girlfriend (Shuna Iijima) and, suddenly reminded of his own mortality, wants out, while Kazu becomes increasingly kamikaze in his actions, desperate to clamber further inward and upwards in the meth business.

The territory feels familiar and the high cliche level holds this thriller back from being as gripping as it should. While the action sequences have hurtle and flourish, the characters feel under-explored and though Kato and Maguma have a strong screen presence, Ken and Kaju's emotions remain frustratingly one-note. The female roles are mainly used simply to advance the plot, although the inclusion of Kazu's dementia-stricken mum adds some welcome freshness to the formula. There's plenty here to suggest a career in action thrillers lies ahead for Shoji but he needs to work on making his actors grip as tightly as his fight scenes.

Reviewed on: 21 Jun 2016
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Ken And Kazu packshot
Two drug dealers find their life-long friendship tested, when one of them decides he wants out.

Director: Hiroshi Shoji

Writer: Hiroshi Shoji

Starring: Shinsuke Kato, Katsuya Maiguma, Daisuke Ebara, Kisetsu Fujiwara, Shuna Iijima, Takuya Sugiyama, Haruki Takano

Year: 2015

Runtime: 98 minutes

Country: Japan


EIFF 2016

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