Sono Sion has been the go-to Japanese auteur for twisted, cooler-than-thou violent, sexual and sexually violent flicks for a while now (eat your heart out, Takashi Miike). Last year, his Why Don’t You Play in Hell premiered at the prestigious Venice Film Festival and picked up the Midnight Madness audience award at the Toronto fest.
Sono’s films often have a comic book edge (for something really grotesque, check out his Cold Fish) so it’s appropriate that this work is based on the 2-million-selling manga Tokyo Tribe 2 by Santa Inoue. Described by the director as a “rap musical,” the characters do indeed rap, as well as dance, fight, maim and kill.
Set in Tokyo of the near future, the city is reduced to gang warfare. Mera (Ryohei Suzuki) is the head of the Bukuro Wu-Ronz “tribe.” Hostilities with rival gang the Musashino Saru escalate and their leader Tera (Ryuta Sato) is killed. Eventually Mera must take on Kai (rapper Young Dais).
Shot with actual rappers and stuntpeople as the actors—some of whom were enlisted through an open audition on YouTube—the action does have a fluid and rhythmic feel. If you want your Sin City with a little more color, rap and Japanese swords—not to mention massive gang fights—this is for you. (116 min.)