Screening at L’Étrange Festival, Paris (France) on 13 September 2017 Format: Cinema Director: Kinji Fukasaku Writers: Masahige Narusawa, Yukio Mishima Based on the story by: Edogawa Rampo Cast: Akihiro Maruyama, Isao Kimura, Kikko Matsuoka, Junya Usami Original tile:Kuro tokage Japan 1968
The delirious adventures of a queer criminal as seen by Yukio Mishima and Kinji Fukasaku.
Footsteps echo in the dark. A hand knocks on a door. A flap is lifted, a pair of eyes peeks out, the door opens. Footsteps lead down a corridor decorated with fluorescent drawings. Another door flings open and the psychedelic lights and music of a nightclub explode onto the screen, frenzied dancers wearing little aside from body paint gyrate to a wild groove while men gleefully grab handfuls of sequined breasts, the walls around them decorated with Aubrey Beardsley’s illustrations for Oscar Wilde’s Salome. In such a heady atmosphere of decadence and loose abandon, it does not seem unnatural that the mistress of the place, a femme fatale in slinky black dress and diamonds, should be played by a cross-dressing male actor (the celebrated Japanese transvestite Akihiro Miwa, here credited as Akihiro Maruyama). Mrs Midorigawa, aka the famous criminal Black Lizard, approaches Detective Akechi, sitting alone at the bar, who came ‘by chance’ to the secret club, and their encounter is the start of a sexually charged, fatal face-off where romantic tension is played out as the mind games of two people on opposing sides of the law.
Sion Sono diverts Nikkatsu’s Roman Porno Reboot into a subversively playful and multi-layered take on the female condition.
The 2016 edition of the Etrange Festival offered audiences the chance to see two of the five films commissioned by Nikkatsu for their 100th anniversary, as part of the Roman Porno Reboot Project. Akihiko Shiota’s Wet Woman in the Wind was labelled by Nikkatsu as ‘Battle’, and Sion Sono’s Anti-Porno as ‘Art’. The latter director is a regular at the festival, as there has hardly been a year without at least one Sion Sono film programmed.
Anti-Porno starts in an Almodóvar-like colourful flat, in bright blue, yellow and red, with young Kyoko naked (but for her panties) dancing to her ghost-sister’s rendition of Offenbach’s ‘Nuit d’amour’, after a particularly boozy night. Unlike his earlier contemplative I Am Keiko (Keiko desu kedo, 1997), where the action (or the lack of it) was confined to an unrealistic red-painted flat fitted with yellow-painted appliances, so as to focus on the passing of time, the frantically paced Anti-Porno is rather a reflection on confinement and on the impossibility of real freedom, as the leitmotiv of a living lizard inside a whisky bottle reminds us constantly.
Every detail in this room feels artificial and exaggerated, while the film becomes more and more hysterical, as the versatile artist Kyoko becomes more and more sadistic with her assistant. Kyoko eventually has her bleeding and then raped during an interview that she gives to lesbian fashionista journalists. And just when we tell ourselves that this is really too much and too kitschy, so does the director, who orders the scene to be cut. Once the suspension of disbelief has been shattered, Sion Sono plays with endlessly embedding successive layers of reality, as he did with parallel worlds in Tag.
Sion Sono loves metaphors and, as in most of his films, he can’t get enough. Both the flat and the bottle stand for the virgin/whore dichotomy, to which Kyoko finds herself confined by the world of men. Sion Sono also adds another layer, using butterflies escaped from a biology book and trapped under a schoolroom ceiling to denounce the glass ceiling still blocking Japanese women. Yet Kyoko’s several soliloquies do not do justice to the film’s clever, manifold levels of perception and reality, concluding on one final and rather trivial aphorism: ‘Men’s world is shit, men’s dreams are shit… Porno is shit’. Why did Sion Sono opt for such an obvious and direct address? Was it because the film was a commission for Nikkatsu? Because he had already perfected the poetic treatment of the female condition in Japan in his previous films? Or because he feared he had not been fully understood so far? For, despite a few delightfully funny scenes, among which the bourgeois family dinner conversation on genitalia certainly ranks highest, Sion Sono gets excessively serious here. One has the impression that Anti-Porno moves from a form of criticism to that of a manifesto, bringing hope in the wake. In Tag, Mitsuko’s only solution was seppuku; in Anti-Porno, though Kyoko’s sister chooses death too, in the final scene we leave Kyoko writhing on the floor in gallons of paint, obsessively seeking ‘an exit’.
Kim Newman rummages through the straight-to-DVD treasure trunk
Unusual touches and a profusion of ideas are let down by hasty direction and animé clichés in this steampunk revisiting of Frankenstein.
In a parallel 19th century, society has been reshaped by the scientific innovations of Victor Frankenstein and Charles Babbage. A vast underclass of living corpses function as soldiers, servants or suicide bombers – revived by Frankensteinian injections and programmed with punch-card software generated by Babbage’s giant proto-computers. In 1878, boyish medical student John Watson reanimates a close (perhaps, very close) friend as a sad-eyed scribbler he names Friday (though his official designation is Noble Savage 007). Blackmailed by one-eyed spymaster Walsingham, who uses the code-name M, Watson and Friday are packed off on a quest to get the lost notes of Victor Frankenstein. These are being used by renegade Russian scientist Alexei Karamazov, who is holed up in an Afghan stronghold. Alexei wants to refine the process to match Frankenstein’s original, unrepeated experiment in creating an articulate monster with a soul (or, at least, intelligence). Also involved in a chase that dashes about the world – including spells in Tokyo and San Francisco – before looping back to London are macho British adventurer Frederick Burnaby (a real historical character), bosomy American mystery woman Hadaly Lilith (an Edison-made automaton, working for ex-President Grant), the USS Nautilus (a nod to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen as much as Jules Verne), and Frankenstein’s white-bearded original monster (‘the One’).
This steampunk animé is based on a novel by Project Itoh, which seems to borrow an approach from my own Anno Dracula. It takes a different Gothic text as source but similarly extrapolates a world dominated by fall-out from a famous monster’s story and mixes in real people and characters from other Victorian fiction. The book was published posthumously (completed by Tô Enjo), which might explain why the film’s plot clanks a little as it waffles about weighty themes (what is a soul?) while speeding through incidents (several wars and mini-apocalypses), which might have benefited from a more leisurely approach. Too often the main characters are on the sidelines of mass action, watching or taking notes while battles are fought or maddened zombies run riot (seemingly turning vampire by the amount of neck-biting on view). There are several unusual elements, like the understated homoerotic bond between Watson (who doesn’t hook up with his usual partner until an after-the-credits tag) and his corpse near-doppelganger Friday, but the picture slips into an animé-manga rut as it all boils down to a world-changing catastrophic event masterminded by a cackling villain and thwarted by straight-up good guys. A confusion of characters – including a Karloff-look flat-headed brute – clash with each other at the Tower of London as a Big Magic Effect appears in the skies above.
The animation is variable, with rich detail and backgrounds but some shaky character stuff (Hadaly’s ridiculous breasts are rather disturbing).
Takashi Miike’s tale of a businessman’s quest for the perfect bride retains its horrifying power.
Along with Hideo Nakata’s Ring and Kinji Fukasaku’s Battle Royale, Takashi Miike’s Audition was one of the main films that introduced audiences in the UK (and subsequently the world) to the ‘delights’ of what would become known as ‘extreme Asian cinema’, thanks to Tartan Films, who released all three as part of their ‘Asia Extreme’ line. Prior to Audition, Miike was best known as a director of low-budget yakuza thrillers that were frequently violent and occasionally bizarre, making him an unusual choice to handle a deliberately paced and cinematically restrained film, but he showed himself to be fully equal to the task. Audition is based on the novel of the same name by Ryɼ Murakami, and was scripted by Daisuke Tengan, the son of Shōhei Imamura, one of Japan’s most respected directors. Prior to his own career, Takashi Miike had spent several years working under Imamura as assistant director.
Ever since the death of his wife seven years earlier, middle-aged businessman Aoyama (Ryé Ishibashii) has divided his time between caring for their son and work. At the prompting of his now-teenage son, he decides to marry again, but has little patience with (or experience of) the protracted dating and mating rituals of today’s youth. Instead, Aoyama and his colleague Yoshikawa in the media industry (Jun Kinimura) decide on a different method of meeting a woman that meets his modest standards (intelligent, artistic, refined, demure etc). They put out a casting call on the radio, asking for new would-be actresses, ostensibly to star in a forthcoming TV drama. Aoyama will read through the applications and pick the ones he’s interested in, while Yoshikawa looks for potential stars. Their selections will be invited to an audition. If all goes according to plan, Yoshikawa will find himself a new star while Aoyama can get a step closer to finding an ideal wife.
At this point first-time viewers will no doubt be wondering how Audition came to be categorized as ‘extreme’, and how Miike earned a reputation as a controversial, transgressive director. Certainly the comic audition montage (complete with the jaunty pop accompaniment) gives you the impression you’re watching yet another romantic comedy about a man going to ridiculous lengths to find love. There’s even a stock character from such films: Aoyama’s secretary, who clearly has feelings for her boss. True to type, he is completely unaware of this, immersed in his absurd quest for the perfect woman. There is no doubt therefore that Miike and Tengan intended us to feel that we are indeed watching a light-hearted romantic drama, for the first third of the film at least.
Once the character of Asami Yamasaki (Eihi Shiina) is introduced, things begin to change. On the surface Asami is everything Aoyama is looking for, but we are slowly given glimpses and snippets of information that suggest something may be very wrong with this young woman. The man she gave as a reference on her application form disappeared mysteriously, while a previous employer was brutally murdered. None of this fazes Aoyama at all, since he’s already decided she is the woman he wants to marry. Against the advice of his friends, Aoyama continues his courtship of the beautiful, strange Asami.
In its final third Audition takes a turn into horror territory, with scenes that retain their power to shock even in our desensitized era. How much of what we see is actually real is not entirely clear, since certain scenes do appear to take place in Aoyama’s head. It has been suggested that it’s all a hallucination, brought on by guilt over his disloyalty to his dead wife. This is not supported by the rest of the film, however; the final scenes are clearly real. Audition has also been interpreted as a criticism of Japanese male chauvinism, as represented by Aoyama’s rigidly old-fashioned and objectifying view of women. Unfortunately, any serious points Miike and Tengan might have been making about Japanese masculinity and patriarchy are heavily undermined by the fact that in no way, shape or form does Aoyama deserve his fate. He’s certainly guilty of deceit and manipulation, but his comeuppance firmly outweighs his crimes. It doesn’t help that Asami is a two-dimensional character. Her difficult past and Aoyama’s schemes would certainly leave her with a right to be deeply hurt and angry. But the real source of Asami’s anger is an utterly unreasonable demand that makes it impossible to sympathise with her, unlike the used-and-discarded women of Fatal Attraction and Play Misty for Me. Having carefully manipulated the audience throughout, Miike provides an extremely memorable crescendo calculated to shock and horrify, something that few films manage to do quite as well as Audition. It might not be a noble ambition, but on its own terms Audition can only be considered a great success, as well as an essential Japanese horror film.
The ludicrously prolific Takashi Miike (as I write this, IMDB lists 99 credits as director since his debut in 1991) seems to work in different modes. There’s the high-end classy work he did for Jeremy Thomas (13 Assassins, Hara Kiri ); there are the extraordinary cult films he made his name with in the West (Audition, Visitor Q, Ichi the Killer); and there are a whole lot of other films he seems to have tossed of in short order that work on a ‘throw it against the wall and see if it’ll stick’ principle. Yakuza Apocalypse is very much a third mode film.
‘Unkillable’ yakuza boss Kamiura is in fact a vampire, who manages to infect loyal underling Kageyama with his condition after being decapitated by assassins. Kageyama in turn infects some of the common populace and soon the world is out of whack: if everyone is a yakuza vampire, then where do Kamiura’s old gang get their status from? Soon a Kappa demon turns up and the conviction grows that some kind of apocalypse is in the offing. A female yakuza has steaming milk issuing from her ears, with which she tries to cultivate a new crop of ‘decent civilians’. The end of days arrives in the shape of a frog-headed martial arts master who looks like a sports team mascot with a bulging hypnotic eyeball. A Kageyama/Frog smackdown ensues. The world ends.
Trying to describe the plot of this effort is a thankless task. There’s stuff in here from spaghetti Westerns and Road Runner cartoons. There’s a lot of informative and/or baffling dialogue (‘Yakuza blood tastes bad and has no nutrition’). There are nice ideas that go nowhere, and wacky bits of business that occasionally pay off (love that frog). There’s an almost philosophical thread about what defines a yakuza. (Kageyama’s skin is too sensitive to allow for the requisite tattoos, the dearth of ‘decent civilians’ makes the old gang question their place in the world.) But much of this gets forgotten as the chaos mounts. It’s not boring, but it is frustrating, all a bit scrappy and makeshift and half-baked. There are the desired moments of weirdness that Miike fans would expect, but here they just don’t add up to much. Ah well, there’ll be another one along any minute…
Sion Sono has made an insanely warped family film about a rock star and a turtle.
Brace yourselves, folks. Sion Sono has made a Christmas family film, albeit one that may well traumatise any children who come in contact with it. Love & Peace tells the story of Kyo (Hiroki Hasegawa), an office drone whose youthful dreams of rock stardom have long since withered. He is now such a pathetic loser that his life is the subject of derision on morning TV – although this may or may not be a dream sequence. One lunch break he buys a turtle from a vendor on a park bench, names it Pikadon, and immediately treats it as his only friend and confidante, telling the turtle all his hopes and desires: to be in a band, have a hit song, play in the Tokyo Olympic stadium. But when his co-workers find Pikadon on him the next day, their mockery drives him to flush it down the toilet, where it follows the currents to wind up at a kind of Land of Misfit Toys deep in the sewers, presided over by a boozy wizard (Toshiyuki Nishida). He grants Pikadon magical powers, and thus Kyo, stricken with remorse over his actions, starts to have his wishes granted: he becomes a Spiders-era Bowie-esque star, on his way to the top, but Pikadon is growing in size with every wish.
As that précis probably reveals, Sono’s latest is not the easiest film to sum up. It feels decidedly sick and strange without actually crossing the line into something taboo or transgressive. It’s glossy-looking and has a budget, but the actual experience of watching it is abrasive; for much of the running time we’re watching shonky puppets with squeaky voices interacting with unsubtle human performers, while in the background that parping march from Walter Carlos’s soundtrack to A Clockwork Orange alternates with the horrifically catchy title tune over and over again. For long stretches the film lacks forward momentum, essentially spinning its wheels before it gets to where we know it’s headed. The Sewer of Misfit Toys is a candy-coloured nightmare of live animals and busted merchandise, run by a kindly old man with worrying Charles Manson/Jim Jones parallels. The outside world seems to be full of cruel idiots. And our lead character is pretty hard to like. In fact, Sono seems to want us to despise his hero. I’ve never been fond of the word ‘snivelling’, but Kyo actively snivels in the early stages as an office worker, when he’s not being a delusional gurning man-child at home, a screeching loon in the street and finally an egomaniacal prick when he attains stardom. What fellow worker Yuko (Kumiko Aso) sees in him is hard to understand.
How much of this annoyance is intentional, and what the hell Sono means by it, is, as usual, hard to say. I have the feeling that someone who was more au fait with current Japanese pop culture might get more out of it. Whatever: there are sizeable chunks of Love & Peace where it sits on the right side of ‘delightfully deranged’ and delivers. I suspect that my face sported a sizeable grin for the moments when my head wasn’t buried in my hands. And the climax is a jaw-dropping thing, wherein a glitter-suited feather-cut Kyo stomping around the stadium stage is intercut with full-on Kaiju action as a Gojira-sized Pikadon goes on a slow-moving rampage through Tokyo’s streets under the obligatory assault of the armed forces, on his way to a reunion with his master. The rest Well, it manages to be both sweet and creepy, Sono eschewing his customary sex and violence but still ending up somewhere… unhealthy. It feels like warped children’s birthday entertainment, like… How’s this? Like a clown on misdiagnosed prescription medication putting on a puppet show with stuff he’s pulled from the wreckage of a plane crash. There you go. Fill your boots, and, y’know, Merry Christmas
War is hell! But that cliché is often contained in a more mundane frame. In Terrence Malick’s 1998 The Thin Red Line the battle for Guadalcanal is soothed by philosophical voice-overs and magic hour photography. The same year Saving Private Ryan had Steven Spielberg seek to justify the bloody horror of war with a broader ‘good war’/ ‘greatest generation’ frame. Clint Eastwood’s twin films Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima are remarkable for their shifting perspectives and ambivalence, but as with the HBO series Band of Brothers and The Pacific, there is a sense that each film is careful of its historical context. Authenticity is as much concerned with uniforms and hardware as with the lived experience of war.
Fires on the Plain offers something quite different. Shin’ya Tsukamoto presents a tubercular nightmare vision of war in all its bloody ferocity. This is an infernal internal vision. Private Tamura (Tsukamoto himself) racked with TB is a dead man walking, staggering from field hospital, where he is refused treatment, back to his unit, where he is beaten because he is too sick to forage for food. ‘If they turn you away again, kill yourself with the grenade,’ his commanding officer tells him. But some feint erotic memory keeps Tamura clinging to life and he flees into the jungle as the Americans launch another attack.
Everything we see from Tamura’s perspective is heightened with the same mad subjectivity that carved Tsukamoto’s punk body-horror Tetsuo a cult niche. The jungle is a painful emerald green, so gorgeously fecund and vital as to make it seem impossible that these men are all starving and rotting away. The enemy is an invisible power striking with God-like impunity from the skies, and even when the soldiers are drawn into battle on the ground they first unleash a God-like bright light onto proceedings, before the machine guns and bullets begin to churn up bodies once more.
Taken from Shohei Ooka’s novel Nobi – already filmed in 1959 by Kon Ichikawa – Fire on the Plains tears to shreds ideas of Japanese military honour. There is scant Bushido here. All cohesion and discipline has broken down, and madness grips the tattered remnants of the army. Isolated from his unit and ever closer to death, Tamura is pushed to the extreme, stripped of everything that makes him human, wandering the jungle looking for escape. Like John Boorman’s Hell in the Pacific (1968), the film attains the power of fable as Tamura descend through a paradisiacal landscape into a realm of the dead, where the survivors are reduced to cannibalism, gnawing on each other like something from a Goya canvas.
Playful and colourful, the 1970 pinky violence series Stray Cat Rock stars the great Meiko Kaji as the leader of a badass girl gang. All five films in the series have been released in a beautiful collection by Arrow Video.
Like Tetsuya Nakashima’s Confessions (2010) and Yoshihiro Nakamura’s The Snow White Murder Case (2014), Penance is based on a novel by bestselling crime writer Kanae Minato. Unlike those works, it was originally shown as a TV miniseries before being released to film festivals as a five-hour feature film, and now on Region 1 DVD and Blu-ray. Many of Minato’s works recount the circumstances around a murder, as experienced by the perpetrators, the victims, the witnesses, and those around them. Although the various adaptations of her novels have that much in common, they take very different approaches to the material.
As the film opens we are introduced to Emili Adachi, a new girl at a country school in Ueda. She makes friends with a group of girls impressed by her lovely home and her glamorous mother Asako (Kyôko Koizumi). The five girls are playing after school when they are approached by a man, who asks one of them to help him with his work. While the others wait nervously, Emili is taken into the school gym and murdered. They find her body on the gym floor and alert the police, but are too traumatized or scared to provide any helpful information. Angered by their silence, Asako tells the four girls that they must pay a penance for their part in Emili’s death and their failure to help catch the killer, but only she can release them from that penance.
From there we move to 15 years later, with each of the girls grown up but manifesting their trauma in different ways. Sae (Yū Aoi) has become intensely scared of men and adult sexuality, shutting down her body’s transition into maturity. Now a teacher, Maki (Eiko Koike, 2LDK) is a strict disciplinarian spurred on by well-concealed rage. Akiko (Sakura Ando) has escaped into a world of childish make-believe, supported by her patronizing and enabling family. The last of the four is Yuka (Chizuru Ikewaki), the only one who rejected Asako’s conditions, saying that she would do as she pleased. She believes that her sexual manipulation and callous brutality are indicators of strength and independence, but in reality she’s as psychically and spiritually broken as her friends. Each of the four girls is given their own episode, with the fifth and final hour dedicated to Asako’s pursuit of the killer.
At first glance it might seem that Kiyoshi Kurosawa is not the most likely candidate to handle a miniseries adaptation of a bestselling crime novel, but there are precedents in his output. Over the years Kurosawa has produced work for television on a number of occasions, most notably with Séance (Kōrei, 2000), his reworking of Bryan Forbes’s Séance on a Wet Afternoon (1964). Several of his films demonstrate a familiarity with the formal mechanics of thrillers and crime dramas, including his international breakthrough Cure (1997) and the twin revenge movies Serpent’s Path (Hebi no michi) and Eyes of the Spider (Kumo no hitomi), both released in 1998.
By the end of the first hour, it has become apparent that Kurosawa’s gloomy, minimalist style suits the material perfectly. The same sense of impending dread that helped to make Pulse (Kairo, 2001) one of the most effective Japanese horror films of its time follows the five women in Penance and makes it impossible to look away until each arc reaches its conclusion. This is no vague, metaphysical dread, but a real, tangible one that reflects the inescapable fates of the characters as all of the girls’ lives descend into violence and horror.
There may be no real ghosts in Penance, but throughout the stories Asako lingers on the edges of the girls’ lives, saying little but watching until the end, her black clothes and high heels as distinctive as the kimonos and traditional hairstyles worn by the yūrei (vengeful spirits) of the traditional Japanese kaidan (ghost stories). She’s not there to exact vengeance, but serves as a constant reminder of the way in which the girls’ fates are bound up with Emili’s, and the karmic retribution that awaits them.
In the final hour Asako changes from ever-present phantom to victim, detective and guilty party, as her role in the events of the past is explored. It’s not much of a criticism to say that this final episode doesn’t match the standards of the earlier chapters, as the necessity of providing solutions to the central mystery takes over and Penance becomes a more traditional crime story. In an era when a two-hour running time can seem increasingly indulgent, Kurosawa has created a five-hour film that doesn’t drag for a second, maintaining its momentum throughout. It can also be viewed as a five-part miniseries, but it’s to the director’s credit that Penance remains perfectly accessible in its full-length format.
A Jap hip hop gangsta musical, Sion Sono’s latest is set in an alternative Tokyo where the rival gangs that rule the city’s outer districts have been maintaining an uneasy truce for years, until, over the course of one night, a murky conspiracy is set in motion to set clan against clan and bring war to the streets. Can the various antagonistic pimps, hustlers, strippers, dealers and loved up teens overcome their differences, beat the bad guys and restore peace?
Of course they bloody can. This isn’t a film of murky moral complexity, this is an exhilarating, garish manga-based phantasmagoria, much more concerned with giving us a wild ride than with such fripperies as plot or storytelling or making a whole lot of sense. Filmed largely in fluid roaming steadicam takes that must have taken an age to set up and choreograph, Tokyo Tribe is a feast of outrageous action against over-the-top set design. The screen is full of scantily clad gyrating girls and splattery ultra-violence, when it’s not full of eccentrically dressed MC’s telling you what’s up. Rather than giving us anything authentically human, most of the actors are channelling hip hop archetypes, exemplified by Riki Tekeuchi’s utterly grotesque turn as chief bad guy Lord Buppa, a leering, groping cannibal king in a gold Elvis suit, eyeballs rolling so far back in his head it suggests he’s permanently overdosing on elephant tranquilisers.
If all this sounds like a blast, well, it is, up to a point, but after the first 20 minutes or so a certain repetitiveness creeps in. Once again, there’s the feeling with Sion Sono that he’s not really in control of his material. He’s having too much fun to be concerned with consistency of tone, or getting over characters and story. The result is a whole lot of cool stuff that doesn’t really slow down or speed up or build. Whilst it’s never boring, irritations creep in. The various ‘tribes’ are introduced to us over and over again, whilst the evil plot at the centre of the tale is left largely unexplained. A military tank is introduced with much fanfare only to be utterly forgotten about. A dick size joke that should, at best, have been a throwaway gag is allowed to take over the final moments of the film. Elements don’t gel; at times it plays like a Rooney/Garland ‘let’s put on a show right here’ flick, at others like Tinto Brass’s Caligula. The ‘one love’ vibe that ends the movie doesn’t fit with the fetishised weaponry and wall-to-wall arse- kicking. The colourful cartoon fun stylings don’t sit well with the rape and torture scenes.
Sure, some of these glaring contradictions may be part of the hip hop culture Sono is representing. But like a rapper yelling ‘Peace! Out!’ after a set filled with Glock-wielding revenge fantasies and badass bragging… well, you find yourself wishing for a little more self-awareness and self-control. The sexual politics especially are pretty horrible, from the opening scene where a naïve female cop is stripped to the waist to be used as a map of Tokyo by knife-wielding bad boy Mera (Ryôhei Suzuki, who, frankly, did not die enough) practically all the film’s female characters are used as squealing eye candy, when they aren’t being used as kung fu kicking eye candy: it’s a rare shot of female lead Nana Seino that doesn’t feature the gusset of her white panties.
Still, the music by B.C.D.M.G throbs and pulses effectively, and it has energy to burn. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it. But I’m still waiting for Sono to give us the undeniably great, mad film that he clearly has the chops to deliver. Tokyo Tribe: big fun on screen, bad taste in mouth. Peace. Out.