Just last year, Japanese film director Sion Sono left a strong impression on the Festival du Nouveau Cinema audience with his bloody cinephile-meets-Yakuza film Why Don’t You Play In Hell, walking away with the Temps Ø Public Prize. This year, we once again might have thought he stood a chance with his newer title, Tokyo Tribe, a film based on a manga by the same name and bringing to life a post-apocalyptic Tokyo run by diverse gangs with one specialty in common: somewhat decent rap skills.
Yes, we could say that the idea behind Tokyo Tribe is genius – it’s a musical unlike any other, or a hip hop music video in feature length form, packed with beautiful yet scantily clad women, menacing gangs and a variety of rap styles from the first frame to the very last, and don’t forget the epic martial battles in between! The film sounds like the perfect recipe for an out of this world experiment that could set new standards for musicals in this urban era, and it would have been if most of it hadn’t failed.
While we could admit that the film was executed in a way that Sion Sono does best – an I don’t give a fuck manner that pushes the absurd and obscene to an extreme – there were many elements that didn’t seem to meet the standards most expected of him.
The various rap tracks flowed poorly with one another. The storyline was chaotic, jumping from one Tokyo scene to another in a confused manner before actually defining a path for the film to follow. This became the cause of many plot holes. So Sunmi is actually Erika, the Hong Kong leader’s virgin daughter! Once this is discovered, her importance is significantly reduced. What is Nkoi‘s deal, and why does he kill his father? Is Mera‘s reason for starting this war simply because his enemy Kai has a bigger dick than him? Or is there more to that? Then again, Mera did mention that like any other war, this one started without reason.
The key to answering the questions left behind at the end credits could be found in Tokyo Tribe the manga – or not. They are two very different worlds.
Although a great chunk of the film was a miss, we could still appreciate those outrageous characters. Lord Buppa, who jerks off a large black dildo while his eyes roll back into his skull, we’ll never forget you.
3 out of 5 stars