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JAPANORAMA - Feast BANNER JAPAN-O-RAMA

Tokyo Tribe Buppa Nana Seino, Ryōta Satō, Junsuke Daitō, Takuya Ishida, Yui Ichikawa, Mika Kano, Shoko Nakagawa, Shōta Someta, Denden, Yōsuke Kubozuka, Riki Takeuchi, Bernard Ackah, Yoshihiro Takayama, Arata Matsuura, Panda UnitedTokyo Tribe (AKA Tokyo Tribe2, トウキョウ トライブ トゥー, Tōkyō Toraibu Tū): near future Tokyo is divided into sections ruled by street gangs; but war is about to breakout when one gang tries to take over. Just when you think you’ve seen everything from Japan they throw out a West Side Story style film, acted out almost entirely though musical rap battles – a Hip-HOpera! It’s a sweet idea to begin with, but at two hours long it’s stretched to the limit; the continually repeated drum breaks become grating, and forcing the lines to rhyme means the dialogue feels clunky in parts – although it could be lost in translation. Also, because modern music videos have massive production, parts of this look a bit cheap in comparison. The set and character designs are impressive, epic sprawls of graffiti’d urban decay, futuristic nightclubs, and a grand dining room. Not that this needed it, but the manga origins give this licence to be crazy with some hammy acting (Buppa), big haircuts, robo-mecha babes… classic Japan! The action is well executed, and the large-scale finale battle is particularly impressive. It feels like the director knew that the rap-battles would only be novel for so long (it doesn’t help that the narrator / central character is uncharismatic) so he throws up something risqué every 5 mins or so to perk you up; gratuitous nudity and fondling, or provocative and controversial dialogue. From the director of Love Exposure and Cold Fish, this couldn’t be more different – but it’s an even more ambitious, unique, and admirable feat than those.

Score: 5/10

Tokyo Tribe Gang Leaders Nana Seino, Ryōta Satō, Junsuke Daitō, Takuya Ishida, Yui Ichikawa, Mika Kano, Shoko Nakagawa, Shōta Someta, Denden, Yōsuke Kubozuka, Riki Takeuchi, Bernard Ackah, Yoshihiro Takayama, Arata Matsuura, PandaTokyo Tribe Mika Kano Nana Seino, Ryōta Satō, Junsuke Daitō, Takuya Ishida, Yui Ichikawa, Mika Kano, Shoko Nakagawa, Shōta Someta, Denden, Yōsuke Kubozuka, Riki Takeuchi, Bernard Ackah, Yoshihiro Takayama, Arata Matsuura,Tokyo Tribe Gira Gira Prostitutes Dominatrix Whip Nana Seino, Ryōta Satō, Junsuke Daitō, Takuya Ishida, Yui Ichikawa, Mika Kano, Shoko Nakagawa, Shōta Someta, Denden, Yōsuke Kubozuka, Riki Takeuchi, Bernard Ackah, Yoshihiro Takaya
Tokyo Tribe Poster Nana Seino, Ryōta Satō, Junsuke Daitō, Takuya Ishida, Yui Ichikawa, Mika Kano, Shoko Nakagawa, Shōta Someta, Denden, Yōsuke Kubozuka, Riki Takeuchi, Bernard Ackah, Yoshihiro Takayama, Arata Matsuura, Panda Unite

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Killers Mo Brothers, azuki Kitamura, Oka Antara, Rin Takanashi, Luna Maya, Ray Sahetapy, Ersya Aurelia, Epy Kusnandar, Mei Kurokawa, Denden, Motoki Fukami, Tara Basro, Dimas Argobie

Killers (キラーズ, Kirazu): a serial killer who uploads his work to a ‘DeathTube‘ site inspires an everyman to go vigilante. It’s the first time in a while that I’ve seen directors harness everything down to the distributors & funders logos to add to the film’s aesthetic; and with this level of detail from the get go, the film is technically admirable – sound, editing, camerawork etc. The opening 5 minutes really set the mood, with a shocking and ultra-graphic murder: the violence slowly escalates and darkens as the runtime progresses. Unlike The Raid‘s gritty-but-styalised – and even poetic – gore, this film is just plain gritty. One killer is a savvy psychopath fit for Dexter, the other is an everyman pushed over the edge, Falling Down style. Another unique aspect is that it’s a collaborative effort from two directors (The Mo Brothers – not real brothers), filmed in two locations – Japan and Indonesia – with English spoken parts when the two leads interact; it doesn’t hinder the film’s international appeal, although something feels lost in translation story-wise. At 140 minutes it does lose feel rather long-winded and intricate for what is essentially a serial killer movie with a disjointed story and not much in the way of themes or messages. If you like your gore gory, and your films stylish this ticks both boxes – although not a lot else. The main stars of Killers are the directors, who with more focus (shorter runtime and tighter story) could pose a serious threat to Gareth Evans as the king of contemporary Indonesian action.

Score: 6/10

Killers 3 Mo Brothers, azuki Kitamura, Oka Antara, Rin Takanashi, Luna Maya, Ray Sahetapy, Ersya Aurelia, Epy Kusnandar, Mei Kurokawa, Denden, Motoki Fukami, Tara Basro, Dimas Argobie Killers 2 Mo Brothers, azuki Kitamura, Oka Antara, Rin Takanashi, Luna Maya, Ray Sahetapy, Ersya Aurelia, Epy Kusnandar, Mei Kurokawa, Denden, Motoki Fukami, Tara Basro, Dimas Argobie

JAPANORAMA - Feast BANNER JAPAN-O-RAMACold Fish Megumi Kagurazaka, Fukikoshi Mitsuru, Denden, Asuka Kurosawa, Hikari Kajiwara, Tetsu Watanabe, Masaki Miura, Taro Suwa, Jyonmyon Pe, Makoto Ashikawa, Lorena Kotô, Suwaru Ryû, Masahiko Sakata, Sion SonoCold Fish (冷たい熱帯魚, Tsumetai Nettaigyo) (mild spoilers): a mild-mannered fish-shop owner crosses paths with a larger competitor who at first seems like an ideal business partner – but that veneer doesn’t last long. It feels like the director started out with two completely separate film ideas; the first 1-hour 45 contains a pretty credible, low-key, tense, but slow-burning con-man drama – with an off-kilter / black comedy undercurrent. The final act transforms the film into a full-blown slasher – which dwells on depraved sex, violence, gore and some body disposal scenes for a little longer than would be deemed comfortable (or necessary), peaking in a hyper-messy crimson-soaked blood ‘n’ guts finalé – shock cinema at it’s best; or perhaps worst! This wouldn’t usually be a big deal, but at 2.5 hours you could have cut two (better, and) entirely different 90-minute movies out of it – an Evil Dead style gore-romp, or Coenesque black comedy. There are glimpses of superb direction and storytelling, straight off the bat, but they end up getting lost in the bigger-picture. Acting is also solid (the runaway star being leading man Mitsuru Fukikoshi’s full-bodied transformation) – although, along with everything else, it all gets watered down and lost within the superfluous runtime. This would, by normal standards, be anything but an ordinary film – particularly because it’s littered with gropey and sensational sex scenes – but when you’re following up from an epic like Love Exposure, this feels lukewarm in comparison.

Score: 5/10