TOKYO TRIBE Movie Review – An absurd, hyper-violent, hip-hop musical
In Sion Sono’s latest and possibly most absurd effort, Tokyo is a crime ridden slum controlled by 23 different gangs. The worst gang of the bunch is the Bukuro Wu-Ronz. Bukuro is led by a super-douche of a human, Mera (Ryohei Suzuki), the son of crime kingpin Lord Buppa. I could go into detail about every gang and why they hate each other, but that isn’t important.
Played ridiculously over-the-top by Riki Takeuchi, Lord Buppa regularly picks up women of the street and either eats them for dinner or puts them to work as prostitutes. Mera chooses one of these women, Erika (Hiroko Yashiki), to become bait against a rival gang. This is where things start to go south. It turns out that Erika is the daughter of a Satanic high Priest who plans to make her his virgin sacrifice. Oh, and this Satanist just happens to be in league with Buppa. When Erika escapes, Buppa appoints a new gang, the Waru, to hunt her down and destroy anyone that gets in their way.
On paper this sounds amazing. When you factor in that Sono directed, it should be a sure-fire formula for entertainment. This action/ musical/ comedy/ absurdist film will have one of two effects on you: You’ll either be drawn in by the incredibly intricate universe that director Sion Sono has created, or the novelty and shock value will wear out it’s welcome far in advance of the 116 minute run time. I fall into the category of the of the latter.
While I found brief moments of enjoyment in Tokyo Tribe, it just isn’t up to par with the rest of Sono’s work. It’s overlong and the film is so consistently ridiculous that it never feels punctuated. I found myself checking the run time around the 40 minute mark. That’s never a good sign. I did however enjoy the subtle nods to films like Streets of Fire, A Clockwork Orange, and The Warriors.
If you’re a Sono completeist this review won’t sway you, but if you’re looking for something along the lines of Suicide Club or Love Exposure, you’re better off re-watching Sono’s early work. I’m sure there will be a crowd for this, I’m just not part of it.