Review – Why Don’t You Play In Hell?
In this insane gore-fest, a club of wannabe film-makers called the Fuck Bombers finally have their childhood wish granted by the Shinto movie god – to make the most incredible movie ever. They band together with an inarticulate loser and a psychotic former child star to film an epic katana battle between rival yakuza clans, to honour the end of a ten-year prison term for Boss Muto’s wife. Throw in some trigger-happy cops on a power trip, a very catchy toothpaste jingle and the new Bruce Lee, complete with yellow jumpsuit and nunchuks, and you’re done. Sound like a bizarre plot? It is. And it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
If director Sion Sono hadn’t released this film in 2013, I would have thought Quentin Tarantino had found some inspiration here for his Kill Bill yakuza battle. Tarantino would surely enjoy Sono’s homage to 35mm film, which pokes fun at a director’s delirious commitment-at-any-cost to that perfect shot.
Despite the frenetic energy and convoluted plot, the editing is a bit loose. A few minutes slashed here and there would have served up the lashings of carnage and hilarity at a more blistering pace.
Impossible to pigeonhole to one genre, this ode to excess is a mash-up of yakuza warfare, black comedy and teen rom-com, with a strong indie flavour. Scenes change seamlessly from gritty, handheld street shots to well-staged skirmishes with realistic prop limbs and heads flinging in every direction. The carnage scenes are the real winners, from the young girl sliding through a sea of blood in her lacy white dress to the animated rainbow of bloody fountains on a cocaine trip. The cinema regularly erupted with laughter in time with the spurting arteries and the awkward ‘only in Japan’ male-female interactions.
When the novice filmmakers are preparing to shoot the film within a film, they joke about the lack of script, training or any kind of preparation. It makes you wonder if that is how this director rolls. But the film is perfect in its imperfection, like Japanese ceramics. The chaos can be nothing but intentional. So strap in, don’t even try to get it, and just enjoy the ride.
Why Don’t You Play In Hell? screens at Mercury Cinema for OzAsia On Screen on 6 and 20 September.