Sion Sono throws everything he’s got at Why Don’t You Play in Hell? “Everything” includes duelling yakuza clans, a ragtag crew of wannabe filmmakers called the “Fuck Bombers”, a budding actress packing an incredibly catchy toothpaste jingle and the querulous young man who pretends to be her boyfriend. The film’s introduction is necessarily a bit of a mess, rushing through backstory and characterisation and “story” with a haste suggesting Sono’s disinterest in these elements.
I wasn’t totally on-board with the first act messiness, but when we kick into top gear in the climax it’s hard not to be impressed. Unlike Sono’s earlier epic, Love Exposure, whose plentiful plot threads tangled and spiralled into insanity, Why Don’t You Play in Hell? builds to one, singular (and, yes, insane) conclusion: a no-holds-barred cocktail composed of one-part love story to two-parts samurai sword battle. Said yakuza clans are pitted against one another, filmed by the Fuck Bombers with said actress at the centre of the action (that querulous young man doesn’t get a whole lot to do, but he does do a whole lot of cocaine). It’s an unapologetically post-modern, exhilarating rush, fountains of blood splattering 35 mm cameras. Fuck Bombers for life!