Why Don’t You Play in Hell?

| January 26, 2015

From its egg throwing, intro ode to Kinji Fukusaku, to the madcap finale, soaked in blood and bullets, Sion Sono’s Why Don’t You Play in Hell? (Jikoku de naze warui) is a brilliant ode to cinema itself and one of the best films that Sono has made thus far. In the film, we follow two infamous yakuza gangs, the Muto clan and the Kitagawa clan, who have been at odds for years. Boss Muto’s wife is getting out of jail, after murdering a bunch of young punks that invaded their home. Muto wishes to impress his wife, by having their own daughter perform in her first feature film. After his daughter has sabotaged her chance in a film that Muto put together, the Boss only has a few days to figure something out. Enter the F*** Bombers, a group of cinephiles that have been working on making their own films on super 8mm cameras and love cinema more than life itself. With no script, no real actors or any sort of preparation, the F*** Bombers decide to help incite a gang war around the Muto’s and Kitagawa’s, in order to capture all of the action on 35mm and try to make the greatest film known to man.

Sono wrote the film around ten years ago, when he was getting his start in the industry, which was also when the major transition from shooting on film to digital was taking place. With this in mind, it makes sense that Why Don’t You Play in Hell? plays as an absolute love letter to celluloid and the rich history of Japanese cinema. Sono manages to infuse the colorful and violent aesthetics of Japanese cult cinema, in order to craft a film that is absolutely delightful. The characters are absurd and over the top, the violence is extreme and the situations get zanier and zanier, that make for a real fun time. Jun Kunimura (Audition, Kill Bill Vol.1) plays Boss Muto to perfection, illustrating why’s he’s been a go-to character actor for the likes of Takashi Miike and Takeshi Kitano. It was my first time seeing Fumi Nikaidô in a role, but her portrayal as Muto’s insane daughter Mitsuko, is exuberant and makes me want to see what she’ll do next. While the film runs slightly long, Sono makes it a point to simply have as much fun as he can. While I’ve enjoyed other Sono films, the level of energy and awesomeness contained within, makes it the strongest film that the filmmaker’s made thus far.

The Blu-Ray from Cinedigm and Drafthouse films, showcases some beautiful A/V on the disc, but is lacking in the extras department. The video on the disc is presented in an AVC encoded, 1080p transfer, with an aspect ratio of 2.39:1. The video on this disc is stunning, showcasing the magnificent grain structure in the flashbacks, as well as much of the great costumes, settings and framing that Sono uses to tell his gangster epic. The image is really crisp and clean, giving way to much detail in costumes, as well as being helpful to focus on much of the insanity that happens in the film. The audio on the disc is presented in a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, in the original Japanese language. Everything in the audio track is engaging, from the dialog, to the music and sound effects, that make the film pretty immersive. The dynamic range in the mix is also fantastic, giving clarity and fidelity to both small intimate scenes, as well as the over the top chaos that makes up for most of the film. There’s only a few extras, which include a short press release interview and a few trailers for other Drafthouse Films. The press release is pretty insightful, but isn’t shot very well. The release also comes with a full color booklet, an awesome poster for the film, designed by James Callahan, a reversible cover and a digital download of the film.

If you utterly adore the insane films of Japanese cult cinema, I implore you to buy Why Don’t You Play In Hell? because its an absolute blast from beginning to end. Highly Recommended!

About the Author:

is a graduate from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Audio for Visual Media. He works as a freelance location sound mixer, boom operator, sound designer, and writer in his native Chicago. He's an avid collector of films, comics, and anime.

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