In my short life as a pop culture critic there have only been about a handful of reviews I’ve found to be overly difficult to write.
While small in number, memories of those hours writing are still very much burned into my mind. Thankfully, it’s not often a difficult one like that cones along.
Even more fortunate is that, despite their writing difficulty, most of these hard reviews come with a complimentary funny story that I find I’m always sharing with fellow writers.
Madman Entertainment – one of Australia’s leading Anime, Manga and foreign film distributors – has decided that I’ve gone long enough without difficulty and has thrown me one hell of a fastball.
A fastball titled “Why Don’t You Play In Hell?”; one of the most convoluted but ultimately brilliant films I’ve ever laid eyes upon!
There’s a war going on, but that won’t stop the inexperienced but eager wannabe film crew The Fuck Bombers from following their dreams of making the ultimate action epic. Ten years ago, yakuza mid-boss Ikegami led an assault against rival don Muto.
Now, on the eve of his revenge, all Muto wants to do is complete his masterpiece, a feature film with his daughter in the starring role, before his wife is released from prison. And The Fuck Bombers are standing by with the chance of a lifetime: to film a real, live yakuza battle to the death…on 35mm! – Madman Entertainment
“Why Don’t You Play In Hell?” Is as meta a film as they can possibly come. It’s about a film crew trying to make the greatest film of their career…it doesn’t get much more obvious than that. While the first, let’s say, half of the movie drags on quite a bit, by the end of that portion you come to realize that it was a slow burn that was entirely necessary.
Not for the sake of story, the ending featured none of that, but more for the sake of the absolute carnage that’s too come. Present throughout the entire film is this strange but critical sense of humour that takes a little bit to tune into but then turns what looks to be a simple mediocre film into one of the greatest Japanese comedies of our generation.
There’s also a whole bunch of excruciatingly hilarious gore that takes center stage during the final scene of the movie, which lasts longer than you think. “Why Don’t You Play In Hell?” throws back to those niche horror classics with it’s menacing level of violence, but ties it all together with such well-timed and sometimes misplaced comedy that has you doubting the genre of the film from the first moment to the very last.
Adding to just how meta this film truly is; Sion Sono, the film’s director, clearly made a conscious decision to use as many under-utilized film-making techniques as possible. This, I believe, was done in an attempt to bridge the gab between the movie you’re watching, “Why Don’t You Play In Hell?”, and the movie being made IN the movie you’re currently watching.
Adding to the air of mediocrity that the film gave off are a bunch of over-the-top performances clearly provided by some fantastic actors who each know a thing or two about comedic acting and, even more important, comedic timing. With good facial expressions and strange poses being thrown around the entire time, this film is just as funny visually as it is on paper.
The sets were great too, not because of how well they looked but because of how perfectly they fit the vibe of the movie and the exact same thing can be said about that of the costuming.
While the soundtrack of the film does indeed add to your overall enjoyment, it was nowhere near close to being the main auditory star of “Why Don’t You Play In Hell?”. The soundtrack was made up mostly of intense sounds that really kicked off during the final scenes but never really found their place anywhere else in the movie.
What grabs your attention above all else are the ridiculously cartoony sound effects and verbal reactions scattered through the film. It’s especially during the final, blood-filled final scene of the movie that you really get a chance to appreciate the strange but fitting use of samples from old Samurai flicks or dated slapstick films. It’s truly a work of auditory art!
It took a majority of the movie, but “Why Don’t You Play In Hell?” won me over in such a startling manner. Mostly because I simply didn’t think it would! Turns out this film features some of my favorite things: Yakuza, Samurai and nerds with passion. It’s hard to screw something like that up.
Though, as much as I like it, I wouldn’t go recommending this to just anyone. The concept itself is a little strange and the way it pans out, well…you wouldn’t want your Grandmother walking in on you watching that final, long scene.
It’s definitely for the open-minded and takes a little bit of patience to get through the first half of the film but, much like MAKING a movie; it all comes together wonderfully by the end. Truly a great feat for Japanese cinema and director Sion Sono.
Take a trip. Purchase the film through Madman Entertainment’s official online store: Click Here