Why Don’t You Play in Hell follows the exploits of a group of young Japanese filmmakers who call themselves The F**k Bombers. When they are young, The F**k Bombers have big plans to take the cinematic world by storm. But ten years after initially coming together, they have very little to show for themselves. Luckily for the group, that all changes when a unique opportunity to make a film and use a real life Yakuza showdown as part of their feature falls into their lap. The result is something like a cross between Kill Bill and House (1977).
I will attempt to keep this review a little on the vague side because the less you know about Why Don’t You Play in Hell going into it, the more likely you are to really enjoy it. There’s a lot to like but part of what makes it work so well is the inherent shock value and I don’t want to detract from that for potential viewers.
Fans of excessive gore and the grindhouse features of yesteryear will undoubtedly be very pleased with Why Don’t You Play in Hell? There are two separate blood river scenes, both of which are absolutely exquisite and beautiful stylized. The effects in that scene and almost all of the other instances of onscreen carnage are exceptional. In spite of nearly all of the film’s bloodshed being achieved by way of CGI, it is nevertheless outstanding.
The cinematography is really an accomplishment. The use of color and the stylized camerawork blend together to make a very visually pleasing viewing experience. There are a lot of slow-motion action sequences within the film’s runtime that look even more menacing in slow-mo than they would at standard speed.
The film is full of a variety of instances of great dialogue, like the scene where one of the F**k Bombers is running around with a camera in one hand and a machine gun in the other saying, “I am the queen of the handheld shot. Show me how you die.” Perhaps surprisingly, the acting is also really quite good. There isn’t a bad performance in the bunch. In spite of the subject matter being so over the top and out there, each of the players turns in a deft performance.
Writer/Director Sion Sono is firing on all four cylinders here. His script is outrageous and multidimensional and his direction pulls the characters off the page and brings them to life in a way that makes them both captivating and likable. His visual aesthetic throughout the film is absolutely breathtaking. His use of vibrant colors makes nearly each frame a delight to watch.
My only real complaints about the film pertains to pacing: It is just a bit too long – clocking in at over two hours. And it does meander a bit in the first two acts. There are a couple of scenes that probably could have been trimmed or potentially cut altogether without being a detriment to the film. The picture is never boring, by any means, but there were a few times where there wasn’t quite enough going on to keep my focus from drifting. But I am very easily distracted, so it’s possible that the average viewer may not even notice the lulls.
Why Don’t You Play in Hell will be in theaters tomorrow courtesy of Drafthouse. I would absolutely suggest checking this one out.
WICKED RATING: 7.5/10 [usr 7.5]
Title: Why Don’t You Play in Hell
Director(s): Sion Sono
Stars: Jun Kunimura, Fumi Nikaidô
Release: November 7, 2014
Studio/ Production Co: Drafthouse
Length: 129 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Neo-Grindhouse, Revenge