Saturday, 1 August 2015
Tokyo Tribe (5 Stars)
Sion Sono is a genius. Every film that he makes is a masterpiece. Whatever he does shocks and thrills the audience. He relies less on gore than other Japanese directors like Takashi Miike, but when he shows violence it's over-the-top and enjoys a surreal artistic quality. If there's one word that sums up his films it's Madness.
"Tokyo Tribe" is his first musical, and it's advertised as the world's first battle rap musical. That description in itself doesn't prepare the viewer for what awaits him. Unless, of course, the viewer is already acquainted with Sion Sono's films.
In Tokyo there's an uneasy peace. There are 22 gangs which have carved up the city between them. They each have freedom to operate in their own area, selling drugs and running brothels, not bothered by the police. Some of the gangs are bigger than the others, but they respect one another's territory.
Mera is the head of the biggest gang, the Bukuro Wu-Ronz, situated in the middle of the city. His central position and the size of his gang make him a power broker. He feels secure in his position until there's an incident in a sauna. Mera is relaxing with other gang members when Kai, the head of the Musashino gang, walks in. They're shocked to see how large Kai's penis is. This becomes a topic of conversation on the streets of Tokyo, and Mera is burning with jealousy. He waits impatiently for a chance to kill Kai and wipe out the Musashino gang.
He gets his opportunity when meeting with Lord Buppa, a powerful leader who specialises in dealing with corrupt politicians. Lord Buppa is visited by the High Priest of a Satanic cult from Hong Kong. The High Priest intends to sacrifice his virgin daughter to the Devil, but she has fled to Tokyo to lose her virginity and become unsuitable as a sacrifice. The High Priest requests that Lord Buppa and his allies search the whole city, including the territories of the other gangs. Mera uses this as an excuse to destroy all the other gangs and kill Kai.
And the war begins. It only lasts eight hours, from evening till morning, but the warring gangs tear the city apart.
It's difficult to describe the excesses of the film. I can guarantee you that it's like nothing you've ever seen before. Madness. I advise you to crank the volume up. Even someone like me who doesn't usually listen to hip-hop can appreciate the music.
Click here to view the trailer.