Daisuke Soma's camera tracks spectacularly down punk'd-out streets as bling'd-up cars with chandeliers in place of wing mirrors traverse them. Although some of the gangs lack distinction, inventive characters make an instant impression - not least Buppa's weasely son, who forces prisoners to become his personal furniture. The rapping is also impressive, with never-ending beats accompanied by witty lyrics that are admirably translated into equally rhythmic English subtitles. They don't even cease - though they do decrease - when the climactic rumble begins and Sono flexes his imaginative action muscles with aplomb. The presentation of women is a tricky issue for a film that on one hand seems to send up the misogyny of hip-hop culture and with the other venerates it. Sono doesn't avert his camera from scantily clad women, often lingering on derrières and including one too many panty shots of the otherwise empowered Nana Seino. However, he does hilariously boil down masculine aggression to a very literal male insecurity. There's a wider message of positivity and cooperation to be taken but it's undoubtedly the sheer bravura of it all that will make Tokyo Tribe a deserved cult hit.
This review was originally published as part of our coverage of the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.
Ben Nicholson | @BRNicholson