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Tokyo Tribe is the newest film from Japanese director Shion Sono. The story takes place deep in the seedy underworld of an alternate Tokyo where the streets are run by gangs from each part of the city. The most powerful gang in the city, run by the insane and murderous Lord Buppa, wants to take over control of Tokyo and is willing too kill anyone in their path. As the conflict builds, Buppa’s son seeks revenge against an opposing gang leader from a tribe that only values friendship and good times. The film climaxes with a bloody and over-the-top showdown all the while delivering hip-hop dialogue through rhyme and rap.

This movie is a melting pot of absurd ideas, hyper-violence and insanity, and it’s great. Tokyo Tribe is a lot of fun if you’re into Japanese dark comedy mixed with a self aware and at times comical gangster attitude. Some of the events that take place in the film concern malicious violence and sexual assault, but it’s all build-up for evil and dastardly characters to be defeated in ridiculous ways. This really reminded me of some of Takashi Miike’s earlier films mixed with a modern street punk vibe.

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Tokyo Tribe is based off the Japanese manga and throughout the film we are given almost all of narrative and exposition through visuals and hip hop songs. It plays like a musical in some ways, but the energy of the film is kinetic and highly entertaining in the right mindset. The main characters split between the basically good and bad gangs are likable even when they are being depraved, and there are so many peripheral and supporting characters shining through that it is hard to begin picking favorites. It’s a huge film filled with tons of great performances and plenty of set pieces to keep all audiences engaged and in awe.

This is one for fans of completely off-the-wall Japanese cinema. Fans of Shion Sono and Takeshi Miike should definitely seek this one out. This one definitely fits in with other great Japanese films to include the Dead or Alive series, Fudoh: The Next Generation and even shares some ties with the street punk classic Wild Zero. Tokyo Tribe is high energy cinema that delivers laughs, shocks and gross out moments at a frenetic pace and Riki Takeuchi’s performance alone is definitely worth the price of admission. Tokyo Tribe, never ever die!

Hawkins’ Rating:

Out of a Possible 5 Stars

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