Film Review: The Devil’s Path

By Pui See Tsang

Fujii Shuichi (Yamada Takayuki), a journalist with Meicho Publishing, is assigned by his editor (Muraoka Nozomi) to look into a letter that their company has received from a Yakuza named Sudo Junji (Pierre Taki). Junji is on death row for the murder of his associate Igarashi Kuniyuki (Kobayashi Katsuya), the attempted murder of Hino Yoshimasa (Saito Yu), and the rape and murder of Yoshimasa’s lover, Tanaka Junko.

Shuichi visits Junji in Kosuge Detention Centre, where Junji claims he wants revenge on his once-trusted partner, real-estate broker Kimura Takao (Lily Franky). With nothing to lose, Junji reveals details about three of Takao’s murders if Shuichi agrees to write an article. Shuichi digs deeper into the investigation despite the lack of hard evidence, his editor’s lack of interest, the strain it has put on his marriage, and Takao’s clever cover-ups.

The Devil’s Path, directed by Kazuya Shiarishi, is a conventional crime thriller that isn’t too different from other films of the same genre. There are similar films that are more creative and express its theme in a clearer, more interesting manner. However, the character development in The Devil’s Path is impressive. Fujii, for example, starts out as an ambitious journalist whose mental and emotional health slowly deteriorates throughout the course of the story. He becomes awash in self-doubt over resolving Takao’s murders.

Though The Devil’s Path contains many flaws, it succeeds in exploring a difficult topic with honesty and grace. It does not insult the intelligence of its audience by concluding with a simple solution. Instead, it tells a disturbing truth: that the law and justice cannot adequately judge a person’s fate.

The Devil’s Path will be screened at Japan Society on July 12th as part of Japan Cuts 2014 , a co-presentation with the New York Asian Film Festival.

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