30 September 2015

Asian Quintuple Review: LOVE & PEACE / TOKYO TRIBE / YAKUZA APOCALYPSE / FIRES ON THE PLAIN / OFFICE (/Slash Filmfestival 2015)

LOVE & PEACE

Japan, 2015
Director: Sion Sono

8/10











Sion Sono ("Suicide Club", "Cold Fish") is undoubtedly one of the cleverest, most talented, and most versatile active Asian filmmakers, and his constant high-quality output is just fascinating. "Love & Peace", one of two Sono films I've seen at this year's /Slash, is yet another fantastic Sono-movie, a slightly insane, yet absolutely wonderful blend of from-zero-to-hero rockstar-musical (a bit in the vein of "The Apple"), heartwarming Christmas-themed comedic drama and hilarious Kaiju flick, following misfit office worker Ryo Suzuki who unexpectedly becomes an extremely popular superstar, while his pet turtle Pikadon becomes part of a lovely underground community that consists of pets and toys that were thrown / given away by people who didn't want them anymore.

With apparent ease, Sono manages to constantly switch between utter absurdity and adorable sweetness over the entire 120 minute runtime without ever letting the movie become boring, stupid or bad. For every scene that is hilariously over-the-top and/or plain bonkers, there's a scene that is splendidy amusing and/or marvellously tearjerking. There's Kaiju turtles that are ten times more charming than Gamera, earwormy J-pop tunes you could hum/sing all day long, high amounts of cute kitties, rabbits, toy robots and plush cats, one of the most interesting Santa Claus characters in movie history etc. etc. A movie for everyone, old and young, female and male, fans and non-fans of Asian cinema.
Bravo Mr. Sono!




 TOKYO TRIBE

Alternate Title:
Tokyo Tribes

Japan, 2014
Director: Sion Sono

8/10








If you don't like, dislike or even hate any kind of hip-hop music, you should stay far, far away from this movie. Everyone else: hello and welcome to "Tokyo Tribe" (adapted from the Manga series of the same name), an uber-epic and insanely eclectic hip-hop musical that could be described as "West Side Story" on Speed, or epic rap-version of "The Warriors", following various warring street gangs who team up in order to fight against a new dangerous clan who basically tries to conquer the whole of Tokyo.

"Tokyo Tribe" is two hours of super-cool rhymes and ultra-phat beats, badass guys and insanely hawt girls, boobs and nudity galore, gore, violence and brutality galore, hyper-awesome martial arts sequences, wicked DJ grandmas, ridiculously awesome beatbox ladies, fat, obscene and bizarrely behaving yakuza bosses, lots of talks about the importance of dicks in the rap game, myriads of pink balloons and outstandingly stylish settings... damn, it's nearly impossible to properly review a movie like that. Just go and see this genius piece of awesomeness. I fully agree with Imdb user OverlordFresh: "I think it's safe to say that Sion Sono is the new Takashi Miike." - Word! Nerimuthafuckaz!




 YAKUZA APOCALYPSE

Original Title:
Gokudou daisensou

Alternate Title:
Yakuza Apocalypse: The Great War of the Underworld

Japan, 2015
Director: Takashi Miike

4/10





"Yakuza Apocalypse", the latest film by Grandmaster Takashi Miike ("Audition", "Ichi the Killer"), is not just a massive disappointment, it's also one of Miike's weakest movies so far, an incoherent and surprisingly unfunny piece of silliness that tries to be an oh-so-over-the-top mix of comedy-horror (Yakuza vampires), martial arts action ("The Raid" star Yayan Ruhian + some guy in a bonkers frog costume) and Kaiju parody (huge frog monster), but ultimately fails to entertain because it's all just too stupid and idiotic, and contrary to Sono, it seems as if Miike lost his ability to properly merge various genres into one masterpiece.

The first 30-40 minutes are quite solid, especially the scenes with the knitting group or the blood-drinking, but then it quickly gets stupider and stupider with every single minute. Countless scenes and characters that are way too daft, countless scenes that seem to go on for like forever, and an overlong finale is so fucking boring, I just couldn't wait until it was finally over. Rubbish.




 FIRES ON THE PLAIN

Original Title:
Nobi

Japan, 2014
Director: Shin'ya Tsukamoto

5/10








"Fires on the Plain" is not a remake of Kon Ichikawa's anti-war-film classic of the same name, but a new adaptation of the novel it is based on (written by Shōhei Ōoka), following a Tubercular soldier who experiences the horrors of war while stumbling through the Philippine jungle during World War 2.

I like the work of director Shin'ya Tsukamoto ("Tetsuo", "Nightmare Detective"), but I'm not a fan of war-themed films, and so I obviously couldn't do much with this war drama that felt a bit like a low-budget version of "The Thin Red Line". There's some unbelievably brutal and extremely impressive gore scenes, a terrific performance by Tsukamoto himself and a pretty intense finale, but in between, there's too much repetitiveness, too much slowness and too many scenes that plod along in a pretty boring an uneventful way. Simply not my kind of movie.




 OFFICE

Original Title:
O piseu

South Korea, 2015
Director: Hong Won-Chan

4/10








The debut feature of Hong Won-Chan starts out as gripping and eerie office-themed horror-thriller (a bit in the vein of the underrated "Redd Inc."), but ends up as messy, predictable and tedious slasher with an unimaginative twist ending that is both frustrating and moronic. The build-up in the first half is excellent with unexpected deaths and a great dose of suspense, but in the second half, the entire thing suddenly explodes into too many different directions at the very same time (supernatural horror, revenge thriller, slasher) which totally doesn't work. The added criticism on work ethics / pressure at work in South Korea is interesting, but not elaborated enough, and ultimately pointless.

4 comments:

  1. ...wow, a Japanese film featuring the horrors they did at my home country...I'm interested now....

    But not as much as I am interested in seeing Office. I adore Redd Inc enough to consider it as a top slasher so here's to you, fattening up my list once more! (I need a third book now...)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm pretty sure you'd love it, though I'd recommend to check out the original version first.

      Office is totally your thing, but I'm sure you will be disappointed by it as much as I was.

      Delete
  2. Not sure I'm going to see any of these - but I'm glad you did...

    ReplyDelete

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