Friday, 26 June 2015


Sion Sono is an acquired taste, that's for sure. He's also one of my favourite directors. Tokyo Tribe is a musical drama set in a futuristic Japan where Tokyo is controlled by twenty-three rival gangs - or tribes as we like to call them. Sono has never been one for shying away from extended running times, but it takes over fifteen minutes to introduce the warring factions, with next to no emphasis on character or plot. As it turns out, Wu-Ronz gang leader Mera (Ryohei Suzuki) wants to take control of the city with the support of Lord Buppa (Riki Takeuchi) by initiating a turf war between the Wu-Ronz and the Musashino Saru.

I've never been a huge fan of Riki Takeuchi and Tokyo Tribe does nothing to change my opinion. His mannerisms have always grated on me and Lord Buppa is no exception, irritating the hell out of me from scene one. Thirty seven minutes in and we're still no closer to an actual storyline. Sion Sono fills the screen with beautiful imagery, mostly girls wearing next to nothing. With regards to equality, pretty men are thrown in for good measure too. It's all about balance, you see. Fifty minutes in and Tokyo Tribe - with it's lack of focus - is becoming a bit of a chore. There are too many undefined characters, too little substance and a complete lack of direction. 

The songs become tiresome too, but then, maybe that has more to do with personal preference than anything else - Tokyo Tribe is a trippy feast of hip-hop, rap and dance. One hour in and Lord Buppa is still testing my patience but in truth, I'm losing the will to live anyway. With a lack of character development, dark humour and plot, Tokyo Tribe is strung together by weak action choreography, tiresome tunes, girls in their underwear, girls out of their underwear and overacting cast members. The last three I'm usually fine with but Sion Sono is capable of so much more. A minor curiosity at best, Tokyo Tribe feels like a missed opportunity. Disappointing.

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