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Why Don't You Play in Hell? - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Jigoku de Naze Warui

Japan 2013

Action, Crime, Comedy

Sion Sono

Jun Kunimura
Shinichi Tsutsumi
Fumi Nikaido
Hiroki Hasegawa
Gen Hoshino
Itsuji Itao
Mitsuo Yoshimura

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Why Don't You Play in Hell?

Story: Muto (Jun Kunimura) is the leader of a Yakuza gang and in conflict with the rivaling gang of Ikegami (Shinichi Tsutsumi). Ten years ago they agreed upon an armed truce, but that truce is crumbling more and more and a bloody quarrel seems to be inevitable. At the same time Muto needs to find his daughter Michiko (Fumi Nikaido) who ran away from home. Michiko is supposed to star in a movie. This is the greatest dream of Muto's wife, who is serving time for him and is about to be released from prison soon. When Muto finds his daughter the young man Koji (Gen Hoshino) accompanies her by chance and Michiko introduces him as a director in order to save his life. Because he wants to present his wife a movie with Michiko in the lead the Yakuza-boss decides to shoot a movie with Koji's help. However, Koji doesn't have a clue when it comes to moviemaking and eventually brings amateur director Hirata (Hiroki Hasegawa) and his team on board. For ten years Hirata has dreamt of finally producing his masterpiece and now it seems his time has come. But the shooting ends in terrible chaos...

Review: When Sion Sono wants to make a completely insane movie in which the finale consists of a giant blood bath then this doesn't result in a forgettable, shallow movie like let's say Takashi Miike's "Lesson of the Evil", but instead you get a surprisingly profound homage to Japanese cinema, in which the border between movie world and reality is blurred. "Why Don't You Play in Hell?" is also a movie full of contrasts. Part Yakuza flick, part coming-of-age story, on the other hand a comedy and then again a well done action flick. Actually, that shouldn't work out at all, but Sion even manages to give his work epic proportions thanks to the mix. If he had made his movie a little bit longer towards the end the multilayeredness of the story wouldn't just had been hinted at.

Why Don't You Play in Hell? - Film Screenshot 11

Still, it has to be noted right away that the first half of the movie seems like an introduction dragging on too much. Yet, the filmmakers themselves remain mere caricatures at best. There is untapped potential here. But it looks different when taking a glance at the two Yakuza bosses, fantastically cast with Jun Kunimura ("Outrage") and Shinichi Tsutsumi ("Monday") who manage to give their characters some depth. Even though it may give the impression they aren't really supposed to stand as the story's pivot. But after all it's not that easy to pinpoint who of the individuals is supposed to stand in the foreground as Sion Sono once again approaches his story in a very ambitious way. The many motives are ultimately in need of numerous characters.

Why Don't You Play in Hell? - Film Screenshot 12

After his positive experience working with Fumi Nikaido in "Himizu" the director once again took the young actress on board of his movie and she really knows how to stand her ground in her role, which is even the more impressive as the movie is otherwise dominated by male individuals. What her appearance in the film surprisingly secures as well is the implemenation of a love motive which impact shouldn't be underestimated. Yet, it never brings any sort of corniness into the movie. On the contrary, despite the below average written characters this makes sure that the movie also works great as a drama towards the end. Yes, in the end everything is once again revolving around love. But more importantly about chasing your dream in life, even if it means risking your life for it.

Yet, all of this also leads to a showdown of sheer madness, in which Sion Sono goes over the top to such a degree that you can't take the movie serious anymore. However, Sion isn't one of Japan's finest filmmakers for nothing and so he makes use of this fact and turns "Hell" into an extremely funny comedy by featuring some very well timed humoristic moments, and this is especially the case when body parts are flying around. When Koji sees blood gushing out in rainbow colors because of accidentally consuming some coke before, then this isn't just a picture you won't forget so soon, it also makes the movie's graphic depiction of violence have a constant wink about it so that you never have a guilty conscience for having fun with this massacre. And yet the director also surprises with his decision who to let live and who not, leading to the drama in the movie also having some impact.

Why Don't You Play in Hell? - Film Screenshot 13

The contrast between dream (=movie) and reality is brought to the extreme by Sion Sono as he bows to numerous movies of the genre, e.g. Bruce Lee's "Game of Death", "Die Hard" or "Kill Bill", and creates an interlaced movie-within-a-movie world in which some of the individuals are already completely detached from reality. No wonder that everything heads for extreme adrenaline-loaden madness at the end. Still, "Hell" isn't a B-movie, although the movie within the movie certainly makes you doubt that - the filmmakers have only enthusiasm speaking for them but no talent at all -, for this the featured motives are too profound. Moreover, Sion also throws in some sociocritical undertone by mirroring the movie industry through the Yakuza. And through the young filmmakers he reveals the innocent kind of fun he has when making movies. Furthermore, the director proves for the first time that he also knows how to handle the action genre. After a rather weak first half, "Hell" will simply knock your sock's off. Madness in its most entertaining way, and there is even some substance added as well - only Sion Sono manages to achieve that.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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