Monday, February 8, 2016

Film Review: Tokyo Tribe (2014)

Tokyo Tribe (Review)
Japan/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...an uproarious extravaganza that should not be missed."

In a dystopian Japan, territorial gangs called 'tribes' reign supreme. War erupts when Mera (Ryôhei Suzuki), leader of the Wu-ronz in Bukuro, sets off to dominate Tokyo through violence...

Tokyo Tribe is a stylish, ludicrously quirky, morbidly humorous and action-packed rapping musical. Like that sentence, the narrative can be quite a bit to ingest, especially through a review. So, I'll keep it simple. Tokyo is dominated by several tribes; each tribe has its own style, in appearance, rapping, and message, and their own turf. You step into a turf that's not yours, you die. Under the lead of Buppa, a sadistic, cannibalistic gangster, Mera sets out to start a war with the other tribes. Particularly, Mera wants to kill Kai of the peaceful Musashino Saru tribe, due to an 'incident' at a sauna. There's a bit more to the story, like a runaway caught in the war, but that's the gist. The film leads to an action-packed climax and an excellent finale. I did not expect to laugh so much during the ending, but I couldn't help it. As absurd as it is, the ending delivers a big message.

Tokyo Tribe is a very fun film. In terms of story and storytelling, it offers something very unique and exciting. It tells most of its story through slick rhymes and bizarre visuals. Although you don't get much depth, each character is distinct and filled with life. Really, the entire setting is filled with life, which is wonderful. You can't help but feel immersed into this alternate Tokyo, bobbing your head with the splendid production. As a rap fan, I really enjoyed the flows, the beats, and the messages. It all comes together to deliver this absurd story. Yet, no matter how ludicrous, the narrative manages to stay grounded in reality. It might be a bit too bizarre for those who have never watched a Sion Sono film (I personally love Cold Fish and Strange Circus), but it's just right for the rest of us. It is a bit too long for its own good and it can be a bit convoluted at times, but it's otherwise an uproarious extravaganza that should not be missed.

The acting was good, too. Ryôhei Suzuki does well as the macho antagonist. Nano Seino was also a lot of fun in her role. It can be a bit melodramatic, but nothing too extreme. The film is shot well, capturing the vibrant world perfectly. I really enjoyed the set design. There are quite a few tracking shots here, too, which I thoroughly enjoy. The music, as already mentioned, is superb. The film is written and directed by Sion Sono, based on a manga by Santa Inoue. As usual, Sion Sono delivers an engaging experience thanks to his uncompromising style. Sono sucks us into this vibrant world using an absurd story and ludicrous direction. He shows confidence in crafting his vision. There are a few issues with the storytelling, but it never falters in the entertainment section.

Overall, Tokyo Tribe is a great film. It's always absurd and occasionally deviant, but it never failed to entertain. Despite a potential language barrier for most foreigners, rap fans will find themselves with great production, smooth flows, and slick lyrics. If you love Sion Sono films, I think you'll enjoy this one.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, nudity.

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