[Review] Killing for the Prosecution (Kensatsugawa no Zainin)

Based on the novel Kensatsugawa no Zainin by Shusuke Shizukui, Killing for the Prosecution (its translated name) brings together for the first time two of the most popular Johnny’s Boys – Takuya Kimura and Ninomiya Kazunari. The story follows a young public prosecutor, Okino (Ninomiya) who is assigned to the Tokyo Public Prosecutor’s Office which deals with violent cases under the leadership of Mogami (Kimura).

While the central plot of the movie deals with the murder of an elderly moneylending couple, there are actually three interwoven stories – with Mogami involved in all of them. The first story involves his best friend from college, civil servant Tanno who is embroiled in a PR disaster and on the verge of arrest. The second concerns the death of a beloved female classmate they both knew in college.

You can easily ignore the first story, because it adds nothing to the main plot – even the dialog comes it bits and pieces. Other interesting characters include Okino’s opinionated female assistant Tachibana (watch out for that weird post-sex scene with him), and Suwabe, a yakuza who’s got a soft spot for Mogami.

Now back to the main plot: the murder of an elderly couple leads the police to suspect a number of gamblers who borrowed money from them – the suspect list soon narrows down to two shifty guys: Yumioka and Matsukura, who looks uncannily like Krusty the Clown.

Here’s where story #2 comes in: Matsukura was unconvicted – due to a lack of confession – for the murder of 2 young women years ago; one of them was Mogami’s beloved female classmate. Apparently in Japan, even though you’re a criminal, you can’t go to prison if you didn’t admit to it.

This is where Ninomiya really shines: after Matsukura admits to killing the girls (he can’t be convicted now because the statute has expired) the scene in which Okino harasses Matsukura into confessing to the murder of the elderly couple really gives you goosebumps.

Well, Matsukura didn’t confess. Because he wasn’t guilty of that murder.

Herein lies the crux of the movie’s dilemma: as a public prosecutor, do you fight for justice for everyone (including those who committed crimes in the past) or do you fight to punish all criminals? This is where Okino and Mogami differ in opinions – the latter has unresolved issues with Matsukura, which clouds his judgement. It’s not surprising that Okino would turn against Mogami; but it’s really surprising to see how far Mogami is willing to go in order to bury his past.

Some parts of the movie could be removed to make the main plot cleaner and clearer, but all in all, Killing for the Prosecution is an interesting roller coaster ride with its fast-paced dialog and bits that make you go “WTF?”