Mitsuke could hardly be considered a typical Japanese girl, but when you’ve spent your life bathing in the blood of your father’s Yakuza wars, you’re bound to develop a few… quirks.  After her early success in a cutesy toothpaste commercial, Mitsuke is determined to pursue the life of a movie star, and with her good looks and her father’s Yakuza syndicate in her favor, Mitsuke seems almost destined to succeed.  Misuke’s mother, who is on the tail end of a prison term for massacring a gang of rival hit men, also shares this longing for her daughter’s dreams to come to fruition.  She has suffered through her decade long prison tenure, holding on to the knowledge that when she finally walks free, she will be able to witness her daughter’s glory on the big screen.  With her mother’s release but ten days away, Mitsuke is no closer to achieving stardom, leaving her father, and his Yakuza subordinates, responsible for the seemingly impossible task of shooting a cinema masterpiece, in just under two weeks.

As it turns out, the Muto clan just so happens to be on a collision course with “The Fuck Bombers”, a group of amateur, gorilla filmmakers, whose unbridled love for cinema has left them unable to distinguish reality from entertainment.  Muto and the Bombers quickly strike up a deal, using the clans forthcoming bloody showdown with the rival Kitagawa clan as the platform for their “film”.  What follows is 129 minutes of uninhibited chaos, that culminates in one of the longest, and most ridiculous, fight scenes in recent history.

If you’ve made it this far in the review, then you’ve probably been clued in to the fact that Sion Sono’s film Why Don’t You Play In Hell, is not going to be your typical Yakuza film.  The plot is convoluted, the characters are ridiculous and implausible, and the runtime is perhaps a good 40-50 minutes too long.  There are so many things wrong with this formula, yet somehow, perhaps through the an exercise in the law of infinite probabilities, this film just works.  It’s funny, it’s entertaining, and everything else you’d expect from a film being showcased at Fantastic Fest.

Director Sion Sono’s wily sense of humor is perhaps only matched in greatness by his undoubtedly inflated blood budget, and though every one of his characters exists in a perpetual state of insanity, there’s something incredibly endearing about each one, and it’s hard to not be instantly enthralled by them.

As much as I enjoy Sion Sono’s flair for the preposterous, I also can without a doubt assure you that this movie is not for the average filmgoer.  If you’re expecting the grave seriousness of a Takeshi Kitano film, then you probably should skip this. However, if you find yourself blessed with enough patience, and an open mind, you will find Why Don’t You Play In Hell to be one funny hell of a ride, that also just so happens to serve as a potent and relevant diatribe on the state of Asian cinema today.


Why Don’t You Play in Hell took the People’s Choice award in the Midnight Madness category of this year’s TIFF, and had it’s US premiere at this year’s Fantastic Fest.  If your interest in this film is sufficiently peaked, check out the trailer below and see for yourself.