Story: Tokyo is ruled by a handful of gangs. The territories are clearly carved out and one of the most powerful and ruthless rulers is
Bubba (Riki Takeuchi). His son Nkoi (Yosuke Kubozuka) is probably as sick as he is and forces some people playing furniture in his basement. One of his
newest toys is supposed to be Sunmi (Nana Seino) who has been kidnapped from the street with some other girls. But not only is she capable of defending
herself physically, she also seems to have a secret. At the same time Bubba's adoptive son Mera (Ryohei Suzuki) wants to start a war with the Musashino,
because he can't stand their leader Kai (Young Dais). For this reason he lures Kai into a trap of which he manages to get out, though, while also giving
Sunmi the opportunity to escape as well. Ultimately, the imbalance between the gangs builds up until an open war is started when Bubba assembles all his
men and sends them to take out all the other gangs. However different the enemy tribes they only might stand a chance against Bubba if they join
forces in this fight.
Review: "Tokyo Tribe" is a hip hop opera beyond comparison. The amount of imaginativeness Sion Sono proves here is impressive and even
though substance needs to make room for entertainment value in this film you will have no other choice but to bow to this piece of work. Still, that
doesn't imply that you need to like "Tokyo Tribe". The complete chaos breaking loose during the last third of the film at the latest, the continous breakneck
pacing and the action as well as the humor getting almost fully out of control at some point - accordingly also getting a bit too much over the top - won't
strike the right notes with all audiences. Also, some of the pinku eiga elements might be a bit too sexist for some, but then again Sion Sono simply puts
everything in this movie that we know him for, and even more!
"Tokyo Tribe" is clearly a musical, although I'm never really sure whether rap or hip hop can actually be called music all of the time. With this
deliberately provocative statement I just want to stress that you don't even need to have a neutral attitude towards hip hop and you will still be able
to like this movie. The music genre implemented without a doubt has its fair share of rhythm and that's what is made use of in a very fitting way throughout
the whole story. Moreover, this use of rhythm also leaves no doubt that this is in fact a musical, although not in a traditional way as already stated. Apart
from the numerous rap sequences it's especially the many tracking shots that impress of which the first one already introduces the colorful world in a very
imposing fashion and at the same time throws us into the action right away, whereas we are also taken by the hand by a narrator.
Sometani Shota ("Himizu") serves as this narrator and seems to be standing outside of the story as well as acting within it as a
neutral observer, which is why he outlines the events at certain points and addresses the viewer directly. This sort of breaking the fourth wall normally
bothers me, but since Shota tells the story through his rapping and since the other individuals in the film also look right into the camera you simply get
the feeling of watching a music clip. That's just the reason why many elements work out that a film normally would have to be criticized for. For
instance, there are numerous apparently incompatible aspects of different genres put into one melting pot. Baseball-swinging gangsters, characters who seem
to have been taken right out of a manga and run around with a samurai sword as well as martial arts sequences to name a few.
This total nonsense you get to see also doesn't stop when it comes to the characters. For example there is the villain Bubba who is brutal, evil, but also amusingly wacky. At the same time he likes women so much he could eat them up (and he literally does!) and makes light of his impotence through his sexual addiction. If this weren't enough already there is his son, who breaks the will of his slaves until he can use them as furnitures. What normally would explore the abyss of the human mind in Sion Sono's movies, and more importantly would be a very unpleasant experience, is so much over the top that you simply can't take it serious, making it nothing more than amusing. The same goes for some sexist scenes, whereas eroticism in whatever form is always a must in the director's works. This aside there is also fastpaced action in which Nana Seino surprises the most and next to the mass brawls there are also nicely choreographed tracking shots showing the action on the battlefield.
Considering the sheer amount of characters you haven't got anyone to relate to for a long time, but this changes from the second half onwards and that's also when "Tokyo Tribe" starts to be a real fun ride. This is mainly thanks to an extremely fast pacing, colorful pictures, remarkably elaborate sets (although some implementation of cgi can't convince, but then again maybe wasn't even supposed to do), the storytelling via the medium of hip hop and the almost epic mass brawls. While movies like "Crows Zero" couldn't appeal to me, this one based on a manga by Santa Inoue could win me over with its unusual mix which promises one thing: a whole lot of fun. Thus, it's easy to overlook that the action is going way over the top during the showdown and that the glimpse of a message behind this rollercoaster ride is forced on us a little bit too late. After his last work "Why Don't You Play in Hell?" nobody really could have thought that Sion Sono could deliver anything more wacky. Well, we were mistaken!