Sunday, 19 April 2015


I don't know about you but I fall in love quite a lot watching Japanese cinema. I'm happy to report it has happened again. Fumi Nikaidô (Lesson of the Evil) is the object of my affection, starring alongside Jun Kunimura (Audition) in Sion Sono's most mainstream movie to date, “an action film about the love of 35mm.”

'Why Don't You Play In Hell?' is both a celebration of filmmaking and a pulsating tribute to action cinema. Yakuza boss Muto (Kunimura) is putting his daily yakuza business to one side in order to make a movie starring his daughter, Mitsuko (Nikaidou). To cut a long story short, Muto's wife is being released from prison under the illusion that her daughter is a movie star. Hirata (Hiroki Hasegawa) and his friends (known to each other as the Fuck Bombers) have dreamt of making action movies since they were kids and, all grown up, that dream is about to come true in spectacularly violent fashion.

Sono's latest is less convoluted than previous efforts and more accessible than most, but it's just as loud, manic, sensational and twisted as the likes of Love Exposure, Suicide Club and Cold Fish. Over the top is perhaps the best way to describe a Sion Sono experience, with the outrageous director rarely opting to tone it down. Larger than life characters are the order of the day here, with wacky comedy and excessive bloodshed adding to the mix of machismo, melancholy and movie magic. The characters are engaging, their reckless plights are a delight and the final act is an extended orgy of cartoon violence which draws parallels with Kill Bill.

Everybody is having a blast in 'Why Don't You Play In Hell?', not least the viewer; a hyper-stylised action movie with over the top performances and a striking lead turn. Fumi Nikaidô may have won my heart but Sion Sono continues to earn my full attention. Fans will love this ultra-trashy mash-up of action, comedy and gangster drama, and newcomers might just realise what all the fuss is about.

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