Why Don’t You Play in Hell? 地獄でなぜ悪い (2013)

Why Don’t You Play in Hell?           

Why Don't You Play In Hell Film Poster

Japanese Title: 地獄でなぜ悪い Why Don’t You Play in Hell?

Romaji: Jigoku de Naze Warui Why Don’t You Play in Hell?

Release Date: September 28th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 119 mins.

Director: Sion Sono

Writer: Sion Sono (Screenplay),

Starring: Jun Kunimura, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Fumi Nikaido, Tomochika, Hiroki Hasegawa, Kotou Lorena, Gen Hoshino, Tak Sakaguchi

This has been a long time coming. I saw Why Don’t You Play in Hell? at last year’s BFI London Film Festival and I had huge expectations. In the months leading up to the screening I had posted trailers and made posts full of Gifs. It was my final festival film of the year and walking into the cinema I was tingling with excitement. Why? Because Sono is one of my two favourite Japanese directors and this looked awesome. I can confirm that it was God-tier awesome. 

The film opens on a teenage director named Hirata who, along with his amateur film crew The F*ck Bombers, is busy shooting a gang fight between some Yankees. The main ambition of The F*ck Bombers is to make the most miraculous movie ever with realistic action! These guys will come into play later as the film switches to Muto (Kunimura), a yakuza crime boss who is the top target of a rival gang.

 Genki-Why-Don't-You-Play-in-Hell-Jun-Kunimura

A hit-squad from the rival gang head to Muto’s home. Except he’s not there. His wife Shizue (Tomochika) is. What results is a bloodbath as Shizue defends her home from the gangsters… 

Genki-Why-Don't-You-Play-in-Hell-Muto's-Wife-Tomochika

Meanwhile, as mother dearest is chasing one of the few survivors of her rage, Muto’s daughter, the angelic child actress Mitsuko, arrives home to find herself wading in a sea of blood. Lying on the kitchen floor and bleeding out is lone survivor Ikegami (Tsutsumi) who is charmed by Mitsuko so much that he develops a bit of an obsession. He stumbles out of the crime scene where he runs into Hirata and The F*ck Bombers who realise he is an honest to God blood-covered yakuza and begin to film him.

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Eyes of the Spider 蜘蛛の瞳 (1998)

Genki Eyes of the Spider Film Review Banner

I’m a big Kiyoshi Kurosawa fan but when Third Window Films announced they had two Japanese films made by Kurosawa in the 90’s I had no idea what they could be and I had little to guide me but posters and a brief plot synopsis. Less than a year on from that announcement and Third Window Films has released the two films in a set. I have watched them and I have to admit that these are two of the finest crime films I have seen.

The films originate from a single offer. Kurosawa was offered the chance to make two low-budget V-cinema films in two weeks with the same cast and so he came up with Eyes of the Spider and Serpent’s Path. Both have many similarities not least the cast and story about a about a man seeking revenge for the murder of his daughter but the similarities end there as Kurosawa’s execution of both films differ. This review covers Eyes of the Spider.

Eyes of the Spider                              Eyes of the Spider Poster

Japanese Title: 蜘蛛 の 瞳

Romaji: Kumo no Hitomi

Release Date:  February 21st, 1998 (Japan)

Running Time: 83 mins.

Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Writer:  Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Starring: Sho Aikawa, Dankan, Ren Osugi, Sadao Abe, Susumu Terajima, Moe Sakura, Kumi Nakamura, Satoshi Kajiwara, Shun Sugata

When we first see Nijima (Aikawa) we find him in the process of taking vengeance.

Eyes of the Spider Nijima (Aikawa) and the Murderer

He has kidnapped the person who murdered his daughter Mitsuko six years ago. After taking revenge. Nijima cannot adjust to normal life with his wife Noriko and is unsettled, life has lost its meaning and he’s haunted by his actions. Then he runs into Iwamatsu (Dankan), an old friend from high school.

 Eyes of the Spider Nijima (Aikawa) and Iwamatsu (Dankan) Meet

Iwamatsu offers Nijima a job. Iwamatsu runs what he calls an “import and export” business from a warehouse stacked with empty boxes and toys. This is a front for a kidnapping business overseen by a larger yakuza clan, where he and his three employees kidnap and murder to order.  

It’s an intriguing job offer for Nijima who finds that he has a talent for the job and enjoys exercising it. But when he is approached by Naomi (Osugi), the gangster who oversees his small band of kidnappers, he finds out that he may be being double-crossed. 

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Serpent’s Path 蛇の道 (1998)

Genki The Serpents Path Film Review Header

I’m a big Kiyoshi Kurosawa fan but when Third Window Films announced they had two Japanese films made by Kurosawa in the 90’s I had no idea what they could be and I had little to guide me but posters and a brief plot synopsis. Less than a year on from that announcement and Third Window Films has released the two films in a set. I have watched them and I have to admit that these are two excellent crime films.

The films originate from a single offer. Kurosawa was offered the chance to make two low-budget V-cinema films in two weeks with the same cast and so he came up with Eyes of the Spider and Serpent’s Path. Both have many similarities not least the cast and story about a about a man seeking revenge for the murder of his daughter but the similarities end there as Kurosawa’s execution of both films differ. This review covers Serpent’s Path.

Serpent’s Path                             Serpent's Path Poster

Japanese Title: 蛇の道

Romaji: Hebi no Michi

Release Date:  February 21st,  1998 (Japan)

Running Time: 85 mins.

Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Writer:  Hiroshi Takahashi

Starring: Sho Aikawa, Teruyuki Kagawa, Yurei Yanagi, Shiro Shitamoto, Hua Rong Weng

The film starts with two men travelling by car in a bland urban environment. The two couldn’t be more different. The calm one who is driving is Nijima (Aikawa), a physics tutor, while his passenger who is tense and on edge is Miyashita (Kagawa) a former yakuza. The two pull up in their car outside an anonymous house. Pretending to be a deliveryman, Nijima forces his way into the house of a middle-aged man and kidnaps him, taking him to a warehouse, where he and Miyashita chain him to a wall and proceed to mistreat the man and threaten him with violence.

As Nijima hovers in the background with an air of indifference, Miyashita looks about ready to explode as he howls and paces about. He soon drags a television in front of the increasingly angry and defiant man and plays footage of a girl in a playground.

Eyes of the Spider Television

The man watches the footage incredulously but begins to get really scared when Miyashita paws at the video image of the girl and reveals she is his daughter then tells him she was brutally murdered and he wants a confession of guilt. The man is horrified and starts blaming others. Nijima and Miyashita have no choice but to continue down the path of vengeance.

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Heat After Dark

Genki Jason Heat After Dark Review Banner Suzuki and Watabe

Heat After Dark                                     Heat After Dark Film Poster

Japanese Title: Heat After Dark

Romaji: N/A

Release Date: 1997 (Japan)

Running Time: 50 mins.

Director: Ryuhei Kitamura

Writer: Ryuhei Kitamura (Screenplay)

Starring: Atsuro Watabe, Kazuma Suzuki, Shigeru Izumiya, Toshiyuki Kitami, Masami Miyata, Shinichi Suzuki, Shun Sugata

Heat After Dark was a random purchase I made alongside another Yakuza film, Onibi: The Fire Within. I had no idea what it was about, just that it starred Atsuro Watabe from Love Exposure and it was the theatrical debut of Ryuhei Kitamura, director of the cult favourite yakuza/zombie film Versus.

In the opening sequence all we can see is a low shot of two men from the knees down as a man named Reiji (Watabe) walks into a bar. This could be the start of a joke… Reiji is meeting his friend Goto (Suzuki). After some small talk Goto says, “I killed someone.”

There is a brief pause.

“Very funny,” Reiji says.

“He’s over there,” Goto replies thinly. Reiji turns and a body is revealed slumped against the bar. Goto had borrowed 20 billion yen from the dead man who is the leader of a Yakuza gang and Goto needs Reiji to help him dispose of the body and so they head to Yakeyama, a place about to be flooded because a dam is being built. However the tunnel to their destination is chained shut and a police officer is hovering around.

Atsuro Watabe as Reiji and Kazuma Suzuki as Goto looking at a corpse in Heat After Dark

Two young guys in suits with a flashy foreign car out in the middle of nowhere? That strikes him as highly suspicious. “Do you have something to hide?” he asks.

Reiji is forced to open the trunk. But there is no body! Suddenly Goto charges down the tunnel and into an abandoned factory surrounded by verdant grasslands and streams. As they rush into the area a gunshot strikes Reiji on the crown of the head. There is another gangster (Izumiya) and it turns out he is selling guns to a gang and that the real reason for Goto being there is to kill this gangster who betrayed him before the deal goes down!

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