Film Review: Why Don’t You Play in Hell

Article by Kevin Young

I’m left baffled and disturbed after watching this film. A psychotic daughter of a mob boss, a Bruce Lee emulator, a pedophile mob boss, foolish cops, and wannabe film-makers come together to leave the viewer left wondering “what’s going on?” Why Don’t You Play in Hell, a tribute to old-school yakuza cinema and shoe-string amateur filmmaking based on a screenplay Sion Sono wrote 17 years ago, really puts your imagination to the test. It entails the story of the ensemble cast of diversely different characters crossing paths within a span of 10 years. It’s a wild, rowdy, confusing, and sickly humorous at the same time. It combines elements of youthful love with pursuing a life long dream and grudges that never die.

It starts off with a group of teenagers wanting to film their very own movie, and the young daughter of a mob boss who comes home to find her mother missing. She discovers dead bodies all around her and a pool of blood that coats the entire house and throws a temper tantrum at the future mob boss leader of the rival gang. It’s a bit disturbing to watch a little girl wearing a white dress get covered in blood after she slips. Yet it was hilarious to watch her mother chase and kill four unarmed gang members with a kitchen knife wearing a tradition Japanese kimono for attempting to kill her husband.

Fast forward ten years and the girl, Mitsuko, has blossomed into a grown up woman and rebellious daughter. While the filmmakers have are seen to have left themselves go gaining a few pounds and still acting childish.

At the very least, when the climatic scene of the two rival gangs fighting to the death takes place the pace of the movie picked up. Everyone dies talk about a blood bath! Randomness and grotesque samurai blood spilling everywhere is what you’re going to see before the better late than never detectives bud in to mow everyone down with their guns.

For those who love to watch Japanese variety this may be the film for you, Why Don’t You Play in Hell is dramatic, bizarre and funny.

Why Don’t You Play in Hell will be screened at Japan Society on July 10th as part of Japan Cuts 2014 , a co-presentation with the New York Asian Film Festival.

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