Sunday, March 30, 2014


Around twenty years ago (has it really been that long?), I attended a screening at the legendary Valhalla Cinema (R.I.P) in Melbourne, where I was witness to the greatest double feature of action filmmaking I had ever seen.  The two films were John Woo’s “Hardboiled” and Jackie Chan’s “Drunken Master II” and both represented the action peak of their respective genres.  In all that time since, no other film has come close to replicating the awe and excitement I got that night while watching those classic Hong Kong films……until today.  Gareth Evan’s sequel to his blockbuster hit “The Raid” may be the best action film I have seen on the big screen since that memorable night over two decades ago.

The story picks up immediately after the finale of the original film, with Rama meeting up with a contemporary he trusts, who convinces the rookie to go undercover in a Jakarta jail in an attempt to infiltrate one of the two big gangs that run the city, and then weed out all of the corrupt cops that are on their payroll.  Rama’s goal is to befriend Ucok, who is the son of gang boss Bangun, and then be invited to join the gang once released from prison, which he is successful at doing.  However, Rama’s new “friend” is an impatient one, and in an attempt to move up the food chain quicker, Ucok starts a gang war between his father’s gang (without Bangun’s approval) and their Japanese rivals with the plan that he and his partner on the side, Bejo, can then secure whatever territory is available after the war.  Suffice to say, poor old Rama gets caught in the middle of the gang war with the added pressure of trying to keep his true identity a mystery from everyone.

It has now become very clear that Gareth Evans is the new master of action films.  In fact he is the only director going around these days that seems to have a clear understanding on how to shoot action that is both believably fierce and easy to follow for the audience.  Not only that, but he also has a keen eye on how to edit these scenes too.  While he showed promise with his 2009 film “Merantau”, he expanded his ability ten-fold when it came to his follow up, “The Raid”.  The original film absolutely blew my mind with its ingenious and brutal fight scenes, and amazingly Evans has been able to top his phenomenal work with “The Raid 2”.  Although the two films are completely different in style, Evans has been able to keep the intensity from the original film and implant it into the sequel.  As everyone knows by now, “The Raid” was set entirely in an apartment building which gave the film a claustrophobic feeling and an energy that was combined with a breakneck pace.  With “The Raid 2” Evans has opened up his world considerably exposing a universe that was only hinted at in the original film.  We are introduced to a large number of characters and at times it can get confusing just who everyone is and where their loyalties lie.  In fact, my one negative of the film is that it is overly complex for a plot that doesn’t demand it.  I suppose it is true to state that while Evans is an expert at creating and filming action, his handle of plot and narrative is not yet at the same level.

One thing that Evans does have a handle of is creating style, which is something “The Raid 2”has a plethora of.  Just his choice of framing, when to move the camera, how he moves the camera and things like when to use slow motion, is so impressive.  Even though the films they make are not similar in the slightest, I was constantly reminded of golden age Dario Argento films whilst watching “The Raid 2”.  Truthfully, I am not sure why that was but I am assuming that it had to do with Evan’s attention to detail with certain objects and the film’s operatic visual style.  As I alluded to above, Evans does a sublime job with the editing of the film too.  It is all so seemless, particularly with the action, that every punch, kick, elbow and slash is felt to its maximum effect.  What I love about the action in these two films is that they are always of a high intensity due to the fact that the characters are in a kill or be killed scenario, and because of this the action is also extremely brutal and bloody.  The use of a knife in “The Raid” films is always deadly, but that is true of all weapons here.  Speaking of weapons, Evans has created two memorable characters in the film that go by the monikers of “Baseball Bat Guy” and “Hammer Girl”, and no points for guessing what their weapons of choice are.  They are a brother/sister team of assassins, who although have limited screen time, their presence when on screen is amazing and you cannot wait until Rama is finally forced to face them both.

Let’s talk about the action scenes in a little more depth, shall we?  Thanks to the two and a half hour running time of “The Raid 2” it gives plenty of time to fill the film with a large number of amazing action scenes without making it feel too much and making it too repetitive.  While I am not sure how many action scenes there are in total, the number is at least in double digits, with the best one being the amazing duel at the finale set in a kitchen.  As great as the Rama versus Mad Dog fight was in the original film, Evans has bettered it with the final fight here.  It is such an intense and bloody duel that has to be seen to be believed.  Speaking of Mad Dog, YayanRhuhian (who was the actor who played him) shows up again in the sequel, this time playing a hitman named Prakoso.  Again with limited screentime, Evans and his actor are able to create a truly memorable character and it is a moment with this hitman that turns out to be the film’s most heartfelt.  It is a brilliant and surprising scene, as we are compelled to feel so much for this doomed man.  However before this, Rhuhian is able to show off his amazing skills in a number of fight scenes.  Another favourite action scene of mine was the thrilling and complex car chase towards the end of the film that sees Rama fighting within a car that is weaving in and out of traffic.  The sheer volume of action in this film is unheard of and it is all spectacularly choreographed by our lead, IkoUwais and the aforementioned YayanRhuhian.  The duo performed the same duties on the original, but their work here is more complex if that is possible.  One scene that did disappoint me a little was the much lauded prison brawl.  Because everyone ends up covered in mud, it becomes difficult to work out who is who, and as such the scene fell a little flat for me.

Overall, “The Raid 2” is an amazing piece of action cinema and is a film I do not want to say too much about in the fear of ruining it.  Suffice to say that it has been expertly put together and directed by Gareth Evans who continues improving with each film he makes.  One thing I failed to mention above is his use of sound that is so intuitively brilliant in that he just knows when to remove the sound or add it at precisely the right moment to much a scene that much better.  The film is style personified and as much as I love the film, I may even love its style more; it is that impressive.  For a two and a half hour film, “The Raid 2” just flew by, leaving me wanting more and to see it again as soon as possible.

4.5 Stars.

Saturday, March 29, 2014


To battle the increased problem of global warming on the planet, scientists decide the only way to combat the issue is to fire a chemical, CW-7, into the atmosphere to cool it.  However the plan backfires as the chemical freezes the entire planet, causing the entire human race to become extinct and the planet uninhabitable.  The only survivors are a group of people who are riding a giant train, that is forever in motion and is totally self sufficient.  The massive train (that is at minimum twenty carriages long) travels across the entire world, where one cycle takes an entire year to complete.  For the past eighteen years that life has existed on the train, a class system has been created where the poor and desperate are stuck in the back of the train; cramped, hungry and overcrowded, while the further up the train, the rich and entitled enjoy the benefits of the luxury vehicle.  The poor have had enough, and a revolution is about to begin, as Curtis, Edgar and the rest of the able bodied prepare themselves to attempt, through violence, to get to the front of the train and take control of its engine; a task that has never been achieved.

So goes the story for Bong Joon-Ho’s latest film, “Snowpiercer” and his first shot in English.  It has taken a very long time to finally be able to see this film (thanks mainly to the Weinstein’s) as it was initially one of my most anticipated films of 2013.  Sadly a release in English speaking countries did not eventuate in 2013, (although the film was released in Asia and parts of Europe), but now the film has finally been released on dvd in France, giving everybody the chance to see it.  Just like all of Bong Joon-Ho’s films, it is immediately obvious that “Snowpiercer” has been impeccably made.  It seems to be true that this man is incapable of delivering a bad movie, and the change of language has hurt him none.  The film is based on a French comic book entitled "Le Transperceneige" and is basically a story about class warfare; the haves versus the have not’s.  But the strength of “Snowpiercer” is that it is a whole lot more than this, being full of subtext and depth that becomes more and more obvious as the film goes along.  In fact the film examines many themes and issues that have been beautifully layered into the film so that at no point does the film become preachy.  Class warfare is just the beginning, with the use of over-saturated propaganda being explored and how a constant message being delivered is able to pollute a person’s mind if that is the only message being delivered.  For the majority of the film, the inhabitants of the train are constantly told that they need the train to survive, however if they really stood back and thought about it, the opposite is actually the truth.  Bong Joon-Ho ends up presenting a reality on the train that is actually a microcosm of the world we live in today, particularly looking at how the rich and powerful get all the benefits from the work that the poor and needy have to do in an attempt to just survive.  While “Snowpiercer” is filled with interesting ideas, Bong Joon-Ho never loses sight of keeping the film as entertaining as possible, so even if you do not pick up on any of the social commentary within the film, it is easily enjoyed as a fantastic action film.

The first thing that you notice when watching “Snowpiercer” is its visual style and just how dark and depressing it is.  Because we are in the company of the less fortunate at the back of the train, the colour has been completely drained with only browns, grays and blacks being dominate.  Everything is dirty, overcrowded and falling apart.  It is an area not fit for any human to live, and yet they are packed in like sardines.  The look of the place gives you a sense of just how desperate these people are and how oppressed also.  However, as Curtis and company make their way up the train, they are suddenly hit with an explosion of colour when they enter the luxury carriages designed for the rich.  From this moment on, “Snowpiercer” dazzles in its colour and set design, as every room becomes a visual delight; each so different from the one that came before it.  Despite being gorgeously stylized, the look of the carriages towards the front of the train, also highlights just how disgusting the back is.  The contrast is obvious as the rich have everything from a carriage designed for teaching their kids, pools, a sauna, glamorous restaurants, a nightclub, even an aquarium, if you can believe that.

The performances within “Snowpiercer” are all very impressive, which is a great credit to Bong Joon-Ho who obviously is directing a language that he is not fluent in.  Chris Evans plays the main character of Curtis, casting that I was initially hesitant towards, but he is brilliant and shows a range and depth of emotions I was totally unaware he was capable of.  At the start of the film, Curtis is full of rage and determination; his myopic vision is focused in righting what he believes is wrong on the train and making sure everyone gets a fair go.  He appears to have a mantra of having to just keep going, no matter what happens, he must make it to the front of the train.  However, as the twists and turns of the film become apparent and Curtis learns he may just be a pawn in a whole bigger event, Evans has to imbue his character with a whole different set of emotions.  Disappointment, betrayal, even temptation are all things he must convey and he does so brilliantly.  It is really hard to believe that this is the same actor who plays Captain America.  Tilda Swinton on the other hand is known to be a terrific actress, and usually quite a serious one too, but she is hilarious in her role as Mason, the train’s second in charge.  She is also unrecognizable with her decayed teeth and her pompous hair style, and ridiculous dress sense.  Swinton is really over the top in the role, but amazingly it works perfectly for the film.  The fact that Bong Joon-Ho cast two Korean actors for the characters who are most in tune with what is happening in the world made me chuckle.  He cast one of his regular and favourite actors, Song Kang-Ho, as Namgoong Minsu (who was the creator of the security systems on the train) and brilliantly paired him with Ko Ah-Sung as his daughter, Yona.  What is so cool about this is that these two actors played father and daughter previously in Bong Joon-Ho’s “monster” hit from 2006, “The Host”, although their roles here could not be more different.  In that earlier film, Song Kang-Ho was a bumbling idiot and the comedy relief of the film, but here he is a drug addict, suffering the pain and loneliness from the loss of his wife.  It is a much more serious role here and he pulls it off effortlessly.  As I said though, everyone is great with John Hurt, Jamie Bell, Ed Harris and Octavia Spencer all impressing in their meaty roles.

One aspect of “Snowpiercer” that I loved is that it was an extremely brutal film, but not just in terms of the violence.  No one is safe in this film, and death could come from anywhere.  You may think that because a character has been set up and played by a name actor that you could work out if they would survive the film or not, but Bong Joon-Ho does not play by these rules at all.  Any of his characters can die at a seconds notice, but the brutality comes in the fact that these deaths are not dwelled upon.  They must keep going, they cannot stop and so they cannot afford to mourn the deaths of their friends, which gives the film a very cold emotional resonance at times.  However, it also keeps the viewer on edge because you know early on that Bong Joon-Ho is not afraid of killing off any of his characters.  In regards to the film’s many action scenes, they have all been fantastically staged and importantly each one comes across as different; from the fight in the dark, to the graphic brawl with the face covered bandits, to the amazingly tense battle in the sauna; Bong Joon-Ho excels in these scenes.  They are also quite graphic in their violence but never to the point of overkill.  

Overall, “Snowpiercer” is another fantastic film from South Korean director, Bong Joon-Ho.  As well as being a terrific action/adventure type picture, “Snowpiercer” is also imbued with a deep social relevance with many topics and issues explored within, however never to the detriment of the entertainment of the film.  Bong Joon-Ho does a fantastic job of balancing the issues and themes of the films by never making them too heavy.  While this review may not indicate it as such, “Snowpiercer” has a number of twists and turns in it, that I am unable to talk about, that really make the film stand out from the rest of the pack.  It is also a film that doesn’t cheat, in that after certain twists, scenes (and characters) suddenly take on different meaning and yet when you go back and watch earlier scenes with this new knowledge you can see that Bong Joon-Ho had directed these scenes with the truth in mind.  This is superior entertainment here and is a film I have no problem recommending to everyone.

4 Stars.

Saturday, March 22, 2014


2003 was an exceptional year for South Korean cinema; in fact you could argue it was a hallmark year.  Bong Joon-Ho released the perfect “Memories Of Murder”, and Park Chan-Wook made the internationally acclaimed “Oldboy”.  Both films received stellar reviews and it became apparent that the filmmakers behind them were going to have a big say in cinema circles for the coming decades.  This has proven true with both directors further expanding their output with great movie after great movie, and both have just completed their English language debut’s with “Snowpiercer” and “Stoker” respectively.  However there was another film that debuted in 2003 that I considered the equal of the other films and I expected its creator to have the same amazing future as the above directors.  The film was called “Save The Green Planet!” and even now, some eleven years after it first came out, I still think this film is the best I have ever seen in successfully changing tones and genres at a moment’s notice.  “Save The Green Planet!” had an environmental bend to it, but it really was a mish-mash of genres switching from comedy, drama, tragedy and even horror regularly but it was done so well that not once do you ever feel a jarring effect from all of the changes.  The changing of tone is one of the hardest things to get right in a movie, and director Jang Joon-Hwan handled the material perfectly.  It is amazing to witness audiences laughing uncontrollably one second, to being terrified the next, and then being heartbroken all within the same movie.  “Save The Green Planet!” signaled the coming of a big new filmmaking talent and I eagerly waited for Jang Joon-Hwan to follow up his debut with a new film.  Ten years past, and nothing came from this talented director (with the exception of a part of an omnibus feature entitled “Camellia”) until 2013 finally saw the release of his sophomore effort: “Hwayi: A Monster Boy”.

After a bungled kidnapping and ransom job, Hwayi, is left orphaned and in turn is then raised and brought up by five criminals that all become his dad.  As the boy grows up, he is taught the specific skills that each father possesses from handling knives, shooting guns, picking locks and high speed driving.  When Hwayi finally becomes of age, the fathers take the teenager out with them on their latest job, which is to be an assassination of a normal elderly couple who are causing problems for a housing developer by not agreeing to vacate their home.  The contract has stipulated that the murder must look like a bungled or interrupted robbery attempt, and Hwayi’s fathers agree that he is now ready to finish off the job.  However, although he has the skills of the men who brought him up, he lacks their cold killer instinct and ultimately finds it hard to pull the trigger.  After being egged on by the most aggressive of his fathers, Hwayi opens fire with a barrage of bullets, annihilating the un-armed man.  This is the turning point in Hwayi’s young life, as this single act of violence unlocks his true identity, but it also turns out that the man he killed has a key to a secret from his past that forms a wedge between Hwayi and his dads.

“Hwayi: A Monster Boy” is a much different film from Jang Joon-Hwan’s previous film, in the fact that it is relatively a straight forward thriller.  Right from the start it is obvious that the extended downtime has not dulled Jang Joon-Hwan’s abilities as a director because “Hwayi: A Monster Boy” is a stunningly directed film.  Similar to his debut, Jang Joon-Hwan has been able to instill real humanity and emotion into the film particularly in its very impressive first half.  We can feel Hwayi aching to be normal and wanting to live a normal life and do normal things like go to school.  As it is, the only time he gets to wear a school uniform is when he is being used as a diversionary device in his father’s getaways.  His absence amongst real people has caused his social skills to also be underdeveloped which we witness when he becomes friendly with a school-girl and he isn’t sure how to react around her.  Although his fathers are criminals and in no way good men, the bond between them and Hwayi appears to be both genuine and one of love.  They all take an interest in the boy (some more than others) and are all invested in how he grows up.  Whether or not this is for their own selfish gain or not is never really explored properly, but at least with three of the dads, it does feel like they have true love for their son.  In this regard, the world of “Hwayi” is expressed in colours of gray because no one is completely good or evil here rather, like real life, the characters have more depth and complexities within them.

The film has a lot of characters, but Jang Joon-Hwan does a great job of defining each of them and giving them their own personalities.  Within the dads there are two that are obviously very disturbed and what you could call “powder kegs” that could go off any minute.  They are very dangerous and you must be weary around them at all times, but then the other dads seem to have more humanity within them and may be criminals only because they are good at it, not because they enjoy it.  Interestingly the fathers run a plant nursery as a cover, and the men and the interactions with the plants is also another thing that is handled well in the film.  Hwayi himself is probably the most complex character within the film because he is battling his own personal demons and fighting against his true nature, so I guess it is correct to some extent that “Hwayi: A Monster Boy” is a coming of age tale at its heart.  In this regard the film is quite similar to Park Chan-Wook’s recent “Stoker”.  One thing that I am not really sure what I feel about is the visual representation of Hwayi’s demons (or monsters).  While the idea is alright, the execution is a little off with the monster being created with sub-standard CGI.  From a character perspective, the only downside of the film is that the female characters get a short end of the stick here.  None of them are fully developed properly, and their motivations appear blurry at times.

While the first half of the film is spectacularly put together from all angles, particularly with the included emotionally content, the second half of “Hwayi: A Monster Boy” sadly descends into a series of gun fights or action scenes.  While the scenes themselves are very well staged in and of themselves, I must admit that I was disappointed that the film ended on such a generic note.  Again, the action scenes are not at all bad but I was expecting so much more.  One thing these gun fights are is extremely bloody.  You need to remember that Hwayi is a seriously dangerous individual; after all he has all the skills of each of his fathers.  He is not an enemy you would like to make.  So much blood is shed and limbs separated from their bodies in these scenes, but again it has been all expertly done, although one thing that did put me off a bit was the colour of the blood in the film.  It seemed to be heading more towards that unrealistic “red paint” look that was so prevalent in films from the 1970’s.  This is not a big deal at all, but it felt a little odd to me.

The limitations of the script also seem to come to the forefront in the second half of “Hwayi: A Monster Boy”.  As the revelations of the past begin, our knowledge of certain characters and their motivations change, and sadly the whole thing starts to fall apart or at least lose traction.  The pace of the film starts to drag a little too as the action becomes a bit repetitive and certain secrets are replied with a “Is that it?” response.  While the film could be accused of being predictable in places, the deaths of certain characters during the film will surely shock some viewers.  

Overall, while “Hwayi: A Monster Boy” is not in the same league as “Save The Green Planet!”, it is still a very well directed film.  Script issues deny the second half from being as strong as the fantastic first half, but “Hwayi: A Monster Boy” also suffers from ending in a series of well staged but generic shoot outs.  It is not a befitting ending for what has come before it.  That said, the first half is so good that the film is definitely worth checking out, but if you are going in expecting another “Save The Green Planet!”, its best to temper your expectations now.  Still, I believe that Jang Joon-Hwan is a great director and I look forward to whatever he does next.

3.5 Stars.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


When it comes to Sion Sono’s recent output he has the dubious distinction of being consistently inconsistent.  He continually follows up a great film, with a mediocre one and vice-versa, starting with 2010’s “Cold Fish” which was excellent, he then followed that with the very poor “Guilty of Romance”.  That in turn was followed by the flat out brilliant “Himizu” (my personal favourite film of his), but he then let me down with “The Land Of Hope” which, although its heart was in the right place, was only so-so.  Therefore going by this theory, Sono’s latest film “Why Don’t You Play In Hell?” should be guaranteed to be awesome.  Let’s see if this theory continues to hold up.

The opening of “Why Don’t You Play In Hell?” begins ten years prior to the present where we witness the beginnings of two storylines that will ultimately come together by the end of the film.  First up, we have the story of two Yakuza clans who are constantly at war with one another.  Yakuza boss Muto survives a hit on his life when his domestic wife lays waste to the four rivals with a kitchen knife.  So vicious was her attack that she was sentenced to ten years in prison and worse, her young daughter’s famous toothpaste ad is taken off of the air. Next up we meet a bunch of teenage film geeks whose only dream is to film one great movie.  They spend their days talking about films and roaming around Tokyo with an 8mm camera shooting whatever looks interesting, be it a gang fight or a blood-spattered Yakuza member walking home after some sort of battle.  Skip ahead ten years, and Muto is preparing for his wife’s return from jail.  The only thing that kept her going in jail was knowing that her now adult daughter, Mitsuko, had become a famous actress.  This was actually a fantasy created by Muto, although not through lack of effort as he tried numerous times to get his daughter into a film via his Yakuza influence, but Mitsuko was not making it easy for him.  Knowing he has ten days to make a real film before his wife gets home, Muto hires the now adult guerilla filmmakers and gives them carte blanche to create their ultimate dream: a real movie shot on 35mm film.  Muto and Hirata, the director of the group, decide to film the real life gang war between the same two Yakuza clans who are still at war, with Mitsuko having a starring role.  What follows next, is not for the faint of heart.

Well it seems that the theory holds true because “Why Don’t You Play In Hell?” is a very good film.  In fact it is the most entertaining film Sion Sono has made for a very long time.  This is the first time since 2008’s “Love Exposure” that he has made a film in his balls-out-gonzo style where anything and everything can happen, and often does.  Seriously, there is so much insanity within this film, I was surprised I was able to come up with a plot summary that made any sense at all.  Everything I have written above is the baseline of the plot, but there are so many more characters and subplots within this film that including everything was just not possible.  After the seriousness of Sono’s past five films, it is so good to see him just have fun and be as silly and as inventive as possible.  With the huge amount of content in this film, not all of it works (in fact, some of it is downright clunky) but the sheer exuberance on display in “Why Don’t You Play In Hell?” overpowers you and you are easily able to look past the film’s flaws.

Everything that makes a Sion Sono film, a “Sion Sono” film is on full display here.  The movie is absolutely ridiculous, is bloody as all heck and has some of the most bizarre and original visuals I have seen in a film for a long time.  The repeated image of a young Mitsuko gliding across the blood drenched floor of her house (after her mother’s massacre) is an image that will stay with me forever.  The reason why Sono is able to get away with what he does here is because the film is actually a comedy.  If this was played straight, it would be far too much for any audience to handle.  The bloodbath at the end is the most violent thing I have seen in a film since the finale of “Kill Bill – Volume 1”, but because it is so over-the-top and cartoony, Sono is able to get away with murder (hee-hee).  The mayhem is hard to comprehend and the body count is massive, but this glorious set piece is let down by the use of CGI blood that looks so unnatural that it takes away a bit of the grandness of the scene.  As well as the good things that Sono always brings to a film, his flaws are also present here too.  The film is a bit too long, and he yet again lets a couple of his actors overact to the extreme.  While he can get away with it more here due to “Why Don’t You Play In Hell?” being a comedy, I still thought Hiroki Hasegawa (who plays director Hirata) and Shinichi Tsutsumi (who played the rival Yakuza boss) went too far over the top and should have been reigned in.

Speaking of actors, my favourite character was the adult Mitsuko, and I was delighted to see that Sono had cast Fumi Nikaido in the role.  Compared to the role she played for Sono in “Himizu” (and for Takashi Miike in “Lesson Of The Evil” too), I would say that she has been cast against type here but Nikaido does a wonderful job at playing the kick ass, take-no-shit adult daughter of Yakuza boss Muto.  She also looks very spunky brandishing a samurai sword and dealing out death during the finale.  I was also very happy to see that Sono found a place for Megumi Kagurazaka to make a cameo (she plays one of Muto’s mistresses) and to keep their streak of films working together going (Kagurazaka has been in Sono’s previous five films).

Much has been made about the fact that “Why Don’t You Play In Hell?” is a valentine to cinema and particularly to 35mm film.  There is a sense that Sono understands that nothing will surpass the greatness of 35mm while realizing that to continue making films, he must evolve and move with the times and thus shoot digital (which he has been doing for years anyway).  However, 35mm will always be king.  While the film is no doubt a celebration of cinema, I also felt that Sono was being critical of filmmakers who confuse movies with reality, and those who make movies without living life themselves.  The filmmakers highlighted in the film sit around for years dreaming about making a film, whilst letting their lives pass them by at the same time.  So while it is great to follow your dreams, living life to its fullest is just as important, and you can then bring these life experiences to the films you then make.  The other thing I think that Sono is taking a jab at is the real life involvement of the Yakuza in Japanese film productions, which has always been.

Overall, there is never a dull moment in “Why Don’t You Play In Hell?” and the film is a very entertaining comedy.  Sure, not everything works in the film, and it is a little long, but its positives far outweigh the negatives in this case.  It is a bold, brash parody of samurai / gangster films that is the bloodiest thing you will see in a cinema all year.  And if that is not enough to sell the film to you, the film also has a cute toothpaste jingle in it that once heard will never leave your head (whether that is a good thing or not, I will leave up to you).  Now hopefully Sion Sono can break this up and down formula with his next film, “Tokyo Tribes”, and deliver two great films in a row.  Until then, enjoy “Why Don’t You Play In Hell?”; it is the craziest thing out there right now.

3.5 Stars.