Tokyo Tribe | Sion Sono | 2014 | JP | 1h 56min | Crime | Musical
I’m a big fan of Sion Sono, so when I heard that his latest film could be described as a Rap Opera set in a future Tokyo with warring tribes… well, let’s just say I was excited to see it. Sono has all the command of a great director, yet he utilizes those talents to make truly bizarre and/or silly films. That sort of juxtaposition of craft and concept is part of what makes his work so compelling. I could easily see this film being a disaster in less competent hands, yet he somehow makes this hodgepodge of genres come together in a way that’s very entertaining to watch.
Trying to actually describe a Sono film is quite difficult and this latest is no exception. Mere words can’t really convey how utterly insane Tokyo Tribe is. There is a DJ grandmother who helps cut between scenes, a holographic overlord with an ensemble of dancing girls, a crime boss who sits at a lavish table with a giant ‘Fuck Da World’ engraved globe behind him, and a beat-boxing waitress… oh, my goodness, the beat-boxing waitress is so great. Most of the dialogue is sung as part of a rap verse, which gives the film this unrelentingly bizarre hip hop vibe. Yet all of this doesn’t really explain what makes the film so indelible.
Some have complained that the film is simply too weird, too much, or that it overstays its welcome. While I can see how some would feel that way, I obviously disagree with a lot of the negative feedback. I’ll concede that it may not be one of Sono’s best films, but this is still a ridiculously entertaining production that I have no problem watching again or recommending to people. There are moments in here that stand out as some of the most hilarious or ambitious stuff I saw all year. Never change, Mr. Sono.