Shugo Fujii tackles a familiar story line in his new film “Kingdom of the Apes”: An intrepid journalist investigates a coverup, incurring the wrath of the powers-that-be. It is a narrative that was injected with topical relevance in the 2019 hit “The Journalist,” directed by Michihito Fujii (no relation to Shugo) and later expanded into a 2021 Netflix series of the same title.

“Kingdom of the Apes,” which the former Fujii scripted and directed, follows the same basic theme with a story that revolves around an explosive news report on a new vaccine, set during the current pandemic. Instead of a drama about social issues, however, the film becomes a thriller with blood spurting and bodies falling. In other words, it is a film a lot like Fujii’s previous exploitation products, including his 2019 splatter flick “Mimicry Freaks,” which screened widely at festivals abroad.

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