Prolific Japanese filmmaker Sono Sion’s latest offering, Why Don’t You Play in Hell?, initially looks to be about a child TV star and a kidnapping involving conflicting yakuza (Japanese mafia) groups. What ends up on screen is a highly comical slice ’n’ dice samurai bloodfest.
Sion is full of surprises. From his quirky tale of redemption and ninja-style “upskirting” in Love Exposure, to addressing domestic violence in the post-tsunami landscape in Himizu, his films always intrigue. But despite their themes, they are always injected with much humour.
In this film, Sion’s complex array of characters includes a naïve teenage film crew, keen to develop their guerrilla style of filmmaking. Jump forward 10 years, and they are still pathetically trying to live their dream of cinematic success.
An escalating yakuza war sees them employed by one mob to film an ensuing raid. Inevitably, the crew finds itself drawn into the graphically brutal, but largely nonsensical fighting.
While inevitable comparisons will be made with Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, Sion’s film taps a more slapstick vein. As with his previous films, Why Don’t You Play in Hell? works to a fever pitch.
A blood-spattered slice of Japanese silliness.
Why Don’t You Play in Hell will screen again at the Mercury Cinema on September 20 as part of the OzAsia on Screen film festival.
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