It’s impossible to make a movie within a culture and not bring some of its culture with it. That is why certain movies make a stronger emphasis in cementing a character’s traits through their run time than expanding on the story or developing the supporting cast. I believe that Japanese dramas might take a little longer doing this and that is why they feel longer. That being said, too much drama can unbalance a movie.
His Bad Blood, directed by Koichiro Oyama who also wrote it with Fumiya Yasumoto, is a case of perhaps having the pendulum swung too much into the dramatic territory. Culturally speaking, I’m probably too much of a western moviegoer to accept it, but it’s so focused on building up the emotional core of the film I feel it sacrifices the flow. The result is that it feels a bit extended for its run time. In layman’s terms, it feels like it lasts longer than its length.
The characters are well-developed. Hiroshi (Ikkei Watanabe) is the man who fooled an entire town just to run away with the savings the day that his son was being born. He’s a jaded criminal, not flinching away from betraying those closest to him. He was beaten and chased away by the entire town once. People still remember him through his son, Shinichi (Yu Toyama), a lazy young man who’s disliked and resented because of the actions of this father. His life is a complete zero, as he stumbles around ditching any chance to work or improve himself. He is lazyness and carelessness personified.
Unavoidably, through inaction or accusation, both characters end up being sheltered by the same reverend who saved Hiroshi from being lynched by a mob years back. Astutely, or so the movie would have you believe, he neglects to tell each of them the truth behind the other. You are hoping each of them will somehow walk towards redemption, or at least enough for a reconciliation. Instead, Hiroshi chooses to betray over and over all trust confided on him, even when faced with the truth about his son. I was invested in both characters and wanted to see their arc come to an end. It does, although without any particular emotional catharsis.
Recommended only for fans of extensive dramas with a lot of reservations. I’d rather merge all of them into a giant one: the emotional toll of this film is played up for a very long time – a little too long in my opinion. I honestly felt the movie lasted three hours although the official runtime is less than two. I feel the performances are well done, but the overall story overstays its welcome. Your experience might vary. In mine, I felt emotionally drained and physically exhausted by the end of it.
That will do for now.