Sion Sono has spent the last few years directing uneven dramas. Why Don’t You Play in Hell marks a return to energetic pop cinema. A familiar cast, which includes “Versus” star Tak Sakaguchi as one of the Fuck Bombers, brilliantly executes the script. Hirata is the leader of The Fuck Bombers (FBs). He’s a devout soldier of cinema and swears to the “Movie God” that he will die to make one masterpiece. He’s possessed with a powerful, but naive, determination. The other members of FBs are a giant lesbian who calls herself the Queen of the Handheld Shot and an overweight man perpetually on roller-skates so he can act as a human dolly. When we first meet them they’re out on the street, capturing a real life rumble between junior Yakuza members. One of the, Kitamura, joins FBs as their wannabe Bruce Lee action star.
Why Don’t You Play in Hell best compares to Love Exposure in Sono’s filmography. The first half is a blast. The director throws in violence, romance, yakuzas, and samples a thrilling music selection like Tarantino in his best days. If this spinning vortex of rinse-and-repeat violence for fame is Sono’s version of purgatory, he at least assures that everyone has a great time paying the price. Sono understands that being an auteur requires being this sort of brilliantly naive, semi-delusional quasi huckster. Why Don’t You Play in Hell is his ode to the kind of filmmaker he’d like to be, in the form of a satire about filmmaking as it is. With the characters on their inevitable collision course, it all eventually flames out in a supernova of violence and ridiculosity that probably could’ve been five or ten minutes shorter.
Every possible photographic technique is showcased here, integrating the fast zooms, slow mo, and stop action utilized in the earlier segments. It’s as if Sono is saying that what worked then can still work now. What the masters achieved with dollies and analog craftwork is no less relevant today. Audiences will always appreciate the power of the moving image and experience the same emotions regardless of the technology in use. Jun’ichi Itô is Sion Sono’s go-to editor. Why Don’t You Play in Hell? is their 12th collaboration. Their rich experience and team synergy is apparent from the start with an economical editing style that has no down time.
If the opening of the film featuring a little girl singing about toothpaste is any indication, it’s that absurdity is catchy and infectious when used in the right hands. With Sion Sono’s masterful direction and genuine passion Why Don’t You Play In Hell? is a gift to film lovers and possibly the bloodiest love letter to the medium we’ll ever see. Tune in, tune out and let the chaos drown you until there’s nothing left. Making the film really fun is a set of talented actors who carry on as if they’re in an episode of Scooby Doo but in the best way possible. This isn’t a film about subtlety, nor does the film take itself seriously, and you can tell that the cast is having fun with their zany quirky characters.