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[DVD] Film Review: Why Don’t You Play in Hell?

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Meet The Fuck Bombers  — a bunch of amateur wannabe filmmakers. Led by the fantasist Hirata, The Fuck Bomberseye426 are on a quest to make the greatest film of all time, even if it cost their own lives.

Enter the Kitagawa yakuza. Ten years ago, the Kitagawa clan attacked the Muto yakuza clan, only to face Muto’s wife who took them out in one go. Ten years later, Kitagawa’s Ikegami plots revenge on Muto’s clan as the carnage left the Kitagawa clan in disgrace. Family-man Muto, on the other hand, is counting down the days till his wife is released from prison, and hopes to make his beloved daughter (and former child-star), Mitsuko, star in her debut movie.

Directed by Sion Sono (Love Exposure, Land of Hope and Himizu) Why Don’t You Play in Hell? is a penned love letter that encompasses Sono’s love for 35mm film. Based on a script that Sono wrote fifteen years ago, this film explores the concept of dreams, nostalgia and the rise of digital film-making.

In this setting, local cinema is in danger of being extinct, and The Fuck Bombers are determined to rejuvenate people’s love for cinema. After realising that they have been living a useless dream for more than ten years, Hirata’s best friend called it quits, leaving Hirata to be more passionate than ever.

screenshot_3_30721Struck by what appears to be a fateful encounter, Hirata’s prayer is answered when Koji – also known as Mitsuko’s kidnapped boyfriend – hunts down Hirata to help him make a film featuring the Muto clan. 

Why Don’t You Play in Hell? Is a mind-blowing masterpiece that will definitely empower your love for cinema. With its quick-witted non-linear storytelling along with its eye-popping characters, the film throbs with psychotic energy that captures the malevolent spirit of the yakuza world.

There is something unique about the world of Japanese yakuza — the mood is ominous, ruthless and cynical yet it presents a twisted sense of reality with a touch of black comedy. Funnily enough, the film dares to mock Japanese yakuza as we see the Kitagawa clan dressing up in kimonos just to look more authentically ‘Japanese’. 

For movie-buffs, Why Don’t You Play in Hell? is an artistic tribute to American director Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Inglorious Basterds). In this film, Sono has built a faultless stage for the bloodbath finale. Set in a Japanese castle with one yakuza clan dressed in kimonos while the other clan is dressed in suits and bling, this is the finale that we have been waiting for.

For half-an-hour, the audience is treated to a spectacular cinematic display of extreme gore. Within a single tracking shot, we see the exchange of vigorous sword-slashing, bullets ricocheting off the walls, yakuza members bellowing in maniacal unison, and multiple shots of blood and severed limbs flying in different directions. Enhanced by a combination of Western and Japanese instrumental score that will strike a chord with viewers, this operatic finale is portrayed in the most glorious manner that will be remembered forever.

screenshot_8_30726Despite the twisted outcome of Hirata’s film, the underlying message of Why Don’t You Play In Hell?  cannot be more profound — cinema will never die as long as there are those who still admire, acknowledge and practice the art.

Overall: Why Don’t You Play In Hell? shows affection for old-school cinema in a unique way. While the film encapsulates the essence of the past, it is a modernised film that looks towards the future as well. From the cinematography to the soundtrack, everything building up to the finale would have been a dream come true for many fans. Well done Sono!

Rating: 9/10

Why Don’t You Play in Hell? is now out on DVD. You can view more info on Madman Entertainment’s site [here].

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