|Review by Joshua Gravel|
Based on the Manga by Santa Inoue
Written and Directed by Shion Sono
Starring Ryohei Suzuki, Young Dais, Nana Seino,
In an alternate reality dystopic Japan, Tokyo is overrun by street gangs know as the Tokyo Tribes.
Every neighborhood has their own gang and all of the gangs fear one gang lead by Mera, the Bukuro Wu Ronz, because the organized crime lord Buppa backs him. We follow Kai and his gang the Musashino Saru through one night in the city that starts with Mera’s gang trying to infiltrate and take over the Musashino Saru because they are considered the weakest gang due to their willingness to stop gang violence. But when larger forces come into play Buppa and Mera see an opportunity to unleash a new gang, the Waru, to help them annihilate all of the other gangs and rule Tokyo.
Now Kai must unite the gangs as one Tokyo Tribe against a common enemy.
Tokyo Tribe may sound convoluted, and to some degree it is, but rest assured that this over the top rap musical sucks you in with its inventive and flashy visual style and you are in for one hell of a ride.
Once you get to know all of the various gangs and characters Tokyo Tribe gets you hooked with catchy beats and fun characters while the story is well paced and plotted and gives you a few twists you wouldn’t expect. The cinematography and art direction of stand out given its combination of over the top hip hop fashion and style mixed with Shion Sono’s own exaggerated visual sensibility give the viewer a strange flashy dystopia unlike anything seen before.
Plus, the music is super catchy and yes, you read correctly, this movie is a Japanese gang rap musical.
The different gangs are identifiable by their own distinct use of different styles of hip-hop and none of the musical sequences slow the action of the story down.
If you are a fan of eccentric Japanese cinema, the films of Shion Sono (Suicide Club, Love Exposure), or are interested in the Japanese take on hip-hop culture then be sure to check out Tokyo Tribe.