In an alternative Tokyo run by dangerously flamboyant street gangs, trouble boils over, leading to all out war. The resulting chaos, death and destruction are painted on a backdrop of Japanese Hip-Hop in a 4th wall breaking Musical Theatre style.
It would be easy to fall into an endless stream of derision, stating that something gets lost in the translation when Manga is transposed to the big screen but the problems with Tokyo Tribe don’t stem from the bonkers plot, roughshod filmmaking style or an overdependence on computer generated gore. Films like Yoshihiro Nishimura’s ‘Tokyo Gore Police’ or Tomoaki Hosoyama’s ‘Weather Woman’ do a much better job of juggling a barmy premise while maintaining a thematic constant. Unfortunately Tokyo Tribe is all over the place. The childish “teen boy” humour, deplorable sexual politics and the occasional racialy dubious quip turn what could have been a fun romp somewhere between R Kelly’s Hip-Hop’era ‘Trapped In The Closet’ and Walter Hill’s The Warriors actually ends up faltering at its central conceit.
Discarding the crass, puerile nonsense at the heart of the film, Tokyo Tribe is fundamentally flawed as the sound design and music veers between monotonous and atrocious. Tracks sound samey, the actors spit lyrically in an unconvincing manner and the beats behind them are basic and uninspired. As someone who was eager to get to grips with a Japanese Hip Hop Musical, Tokyo Tribe has been a monumental letdown.
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