"BAD FILM" is a legendary production that was shot in 1995 over the course of the year, but went unfinished due to funding difficulties. This year, over 150 hours of footage captured on the... See full summary »

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Credited cast:
Yoshihiro Nishimura
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"BAD FILM" is a legendary production that was shot in 1995 over the course of the year, but went unfinished due to funding difficulties. This year, over 150 hours of footage captured on the now obsolete format Hi-8 (8-millimeter high resolution video), was re-edited to create a stunning work of cinema. Its concept: "Near the end of the 20th century on Tokyo's Chuo train line, just before Hong Kong's return to Chinese control, masses of people go on a rampage, and love runs wild." Its premise sees Koenji being taken over by Chinese, and running battles erupting on a tremendous scale between Japanese vigilantes and foreigners on the Chuo Line, Shinjuku, and elsewhere. Most of the cast are members of Tokyo GAGAGA, a performance collective formed by director SONO Sion in 1993. Written by Jiilo_Kim

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12 July 2013 (USA)  »

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Bad Film  »

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1.33 : 1
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Experimentation and Existentialism
8 August 2013 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

Sion Sono's "Bad Film" is an exploration of human nature in cultural conflicts. The central themes are racism, homosexuality and violence. The characters are marginal misfits who make mayhem in various neighbourhood of Tokyo. The central dilemma of the high-density Chinese immigrants who are perceived as a threat especially as the 1997 Handover of Hong Kong to China is looming, coupled with the more comically-toned fear of "Blacks" for their hypothetically huge penises and ensuing vagina-stretching paranoia for the poor Japanese girls from their "protecting" male counterparts.

The long movie follows a rather typical gang attacks gang pattern with periods of peace and respite, but despite its shortcomings and simple story, it shines with bouts of beautiful artistic cinematography (especially for the budget and guerilla-style street film-making) and engaging, endearing and strange characters. It also showcases Sono's humour, innovation, eclectic vision and symbolic synthesis.

The soul-searching in society's fringe is evident and the sedated pace allows for much reflection. At part life-affirming and at parts looking- glass alarming, this examines the essence of being alive in our melodramatic times.

The racist dialogue is consistent with typical bigotry, ignorance and fear anywhere in the world, but there is a well-researched and executed scene where the two warring interpreters discuss the merits and underachievements of China versus Japan in a more didactic and less derogatory way which is extremely effective. The other memorable scenes are the visceral eye-stopping "Slap Scene" and the various non-sexual lesbian scenes between the two "Juliette & Juliette" of the rival clans. The music and editing work well in most part and the ending brings closure to this epic episode, while not necessarily inducing change like epigenetics.

So this movie is no clear masterpiece as Canadian "Crash (2004)" did much better (and more subtly) evaluating our remaining racist societal compass, but it certainly pushes the boundaries in a beautiful and thoughtful way. All and all, it is a worthwhile, if at times long, watch.

It enviably sits in the same decadent universe as Sion Sono's "Hazard (2005)" which takes place in New York, versus the elaborate erotic worlds of "Strange Circus (2005)" & "Guilty of Romance (2011)" but does not completely achieve greatness like "Noriko's Dinner Table (2005)" and "Cold Fish (2010)" which are more refined on almost every level.


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