From Japanese auteur Sion Sono (Suicide Club, Cold Fish) comes the bloody action-comedy Why Don’t You Play in Hell? Yakuza boss Muto (Jun Kunimura) is at the beginnings of a war with rival Yazuka Ikegami (Shin'ichi Tsutsumi), which stemmed from an assault ten year’s prior, in which Muto’s wife was sent to prison for murdering would-be assassins. However, Muto is more focused on making his daughter Mitsuko (Fumi Nikaidô) a movie star, fulfilling his wife’s dream before her release from prison. Muto decides to kill two birds with one stone and film a raid on Ikegami’s compound. To do this, a group of amateur filmmakers named the F-Bombers, lead by director Hirata (Hiroki Hasegawa), are recruited to film the Yakuza battling to the death on 35mm.
Why Don’t You Play in Hell? is the 31st feature by acclaimed Japanese director Sion Sono and is based on a screenplay that he wrote fifteen years ago. At the centre of the film are the group of movie buffs, known as the F-Bombers, who have been making films together since they were teenagers. It is the dream of director Hirata to make one great movie or die trying. However, things don’t look good for the group, who have only produced a martial arts trailer, which they watch on repeat, on a small TV screen, in their now dilapidated and shut-down local cinema. In addition, their star Sasaki (Tak Sakaguchi), touted as the next Bruce Lee, gets tired of the group’s lack of progress and quits. However, things begins to turn around as Hirata’s prayers to the Movie God are literally answered and the F-Bombers are recruited to make the ultimate action film.
The tone for Why Don’t You Play in Hell? is established right from the opening, which features a toothbrush commercial starring a young Mitsuko. The very cheesy, yet catchy, jingle for the commercial becomes a bit of a recurring gag in the film, as it is sung by different characters in different contexts. In fact, it will be hard pressed for anyone to watch Why Don’t You Play in Hell? without getting the jingle stuck in their head. The film as a whole is mix of violent Yazuka action and slapstick comedy. Probably the most cartoonish character in the film is the antagonist Ikegami, who decided that his gang should wear traditional Japanese kimonos and live in a castle. Ikegami also has a somewhat unhealthy obsession with Mitsuko, who he has been in love with since she was a child.
The plot for Why Don’t You Play in Hell? is ultimately just a way to build up to the film’s over-the-top bloody climax, which makes Kill Bill look like child’s play. However, that final battle, which features a great mix of ultra-gory violence and comedy, is a hell of a lot of fun. Each of the characters have their own stand-out moment during the battle, including many great moves performed by Mitsuko. One character that really stands out is Mitsuko’s “boyfriend for the day” Koji Hashimoto (Gen Hoshino), who really shows an undying devotion to her.
Why Don’t You Play in Hell? was my first time seeing a Sion Sono film and the film has really make me interested in checking out some of the other films from his filmography. This was a very awesome and fun to watch action-comedy, which I had a huge blast watching.10 | LOVED IT
Why Don’t You Play in Hell? is playing theatrically this week at the Royal Cinema and is also released today on blu-ray.