Monday, 21 September 2015

Tokyo Tribe (2015) - Her review

I mean, look at that poster? Looks awesome. Who wouldn't want to see Sion Sono's latest? Especially when the back of the DVD case exclaims a review from Sky Movies, proclaiming it "a narcotic blast of hip-hopera, kung fu, nudie exploitation, yakuza silliness and bizarro horror." Take my money now!

And then we got home and put Tokyo Tribe on. 

Twenty minutes in, me and Richee look at each other. "Are they gonna rap all the way through this?" Twenty minutes in, the same 115 BPM hasn't once let up, the most lethargic rapper/MC (Shota Sometani) has managed to mumble a kind of introduction to this alternative universe Tokyo. I'm not quite sure what the story is, but we are introduced to six gangs, of which only two are of importance to the plot. Mare (Ryohei Suzuki) of the Bukuro gang, joins forces with opulant gang leader Buppa (Riki Takeuchi) to take on the peace loving Kai (Young Dais, who was instrumental in much of the music in this film). Caught up in all of this is Sunmi (Nana Seino), a pretty young woman who also happens to know the martial arts.

Yes, this film looks good. And when I say good, I mean intense. It's full on neon, and lots of hip hop music video techniques are used. There is gold, gold and more gold, and even a happy-go-lucky whore house. But let's talk through some of the things I liked first. Some of the fight scene's look good, and are ludicrous. My favourite character is an all too brief appearance of a beat boxing tea waitress. A cute shiba inu dog turns up at one point too.

So twenty minutes in we're asking questions of this film. To be honest, I didn't expect it to be an almost solid two hours of rapping. It's made all the more painful by the fact that a majority of the rapping is painful to hear, and, I don't know if it was to do with the translation, but the lyrics where repetitive and awful. Through most of the film, I had little idea of what was going on, but the fact that the film was just plain boring, meant I didn't care what was going on. I felt little connection with any of the characters. Even the death scenes were ruined by terrible CGI blood. By the time the real reason for the gang war comes up at the end of the film, the humorous truth is sullied by the fact its taken two hours of sitting through a meandering story to get to it.

Unfortunately, there is not much I can offer you in way of reasons to watch this film. I am unfamiliar with the rest of Sono's work, so I can't compare it to his previous films. Even the moral of the film is childish and naive, as we instinctively know that Kai's "peace, love and friendship" tribe is the guys we should be rooting for.

Two hours later, me and Richee quickly turn the film off, just as the credits start, relieved and eager for silence. And whether you like it or not, you will have the drooling refrain of "Tokyo Tribe/never ever die" stuck in you head for days.



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