Challenge Week 15: Why Don’t You Play in Hell?

I’d heard of Sion Sono before seeing this, but mostly got the sense that his stuff would be too weird/extreme for me. This one, however, is like an actual Japanese version of Kill Bill, except even more extreme, plus a filmmaking angle, which you know always attracts me.

A set of young filmmakers wants to make one amazing film, and what could be more amazing than filming an actual yakuza battle (with their own Bruce Lee-yellow-jumpsuit-wearing action star for good measure). The plot is actually much more complicated than that, involving a yakuza boss, his badass wife and wannabe actress daughter, a rival yakuza gang, and the regular guy who gets caught in the middle of all this, but BASICALLY it’s an over the top homage to 1970s Asian action films.

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It’s also one of the bloodiest films I’ve ever seen, so it helps a lot that it’s so completely absurd. The final yakuza battle takes up probably half the film and is a ton of fun to watch, if you find it fun to have heartfelt love scenes interrupted by severed heads rolling by. Or a girl sliding through an ankle-deep room full of blood and then doing a commercial jingle as if nothing’s at all weird about that. Thankfully, in a film like this, I find it quite fun indeed. The kills are inventive and the cinematography and timing are perfect throughout.

This is one that had been on my radar from friends who saw it at various film festivals, but I’m grateful to Chewie for giving me a push to get over my Sion Sono hesitation, at least with regards to this film! I enjoyed it a lot.

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Stats and stuff…

2013, Japan
written and directed by Sion Sono
starring Jun Kunimura, Fumi Nikaidô, Hiroki Hasegawa, Gen Hoshino, Shin’ichi Tsutsumi, Tomochika

I’m ranking all my Challenge films on Flickchart (as I do all the films I see), a movie-ranking website that asks you to choose your favorite between two movies until it builds a ranked list of your favorites. Just for fun, I will average out the rankings and keep a running tally of whose recommendations rank the highest. When you add a film to Flickchart, it pits it against films already on your chart to see where it should fall. Here’s how Why Don’t You Play in Hell? entered my chart:

Why Don’t You Play in Hell? beats Kramer vs Kramer
Why Don’t You Play in Hell? beats Johnny Tremain
Why Don’t You Play in Hell? loses to The Princess and the Warrior
Why Don’t You Play in Hell? loses to Revanche
Why Don’t You Play in Hell? loses to Toy Story 2
Why Don’t You Play in Hell? loses to Dead Again
Why Don’t You Play in Hell? loses to Triumph of the Will
Why Don’t You Play in Hell? loses to The Kid Brother
Why Don’t You Play in Hell? beats Grosse Pointe Blank
Why Don’t You Play in Hell? beats The Lego Movie
Why Don’t You Play in Hell? beats Sicario
Why Don’t You Play in Hell? loses to The French Connection

Final ranking #890 out of 3611 films on my chart (75%)

It is now my #1 Sion Sono film, my #1 Jun Kunimura film, my #9 Absurd Comedy, my #20 Action comedy, my #25 Black Comedy, my #22 Gangster Film, my #5 Splatter Film, and my #15 film of 2013.

Why Don’t You Play in Hell? was recommended by Chewie Darsow, a real-life friend.

A few more screenshots…

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