Hazard Sion Sono

Hazard Sion Sono
Shinichi is a restless Japanese youth bored of his saccharine lifestyle in suburban Tokyo and looking for excitement. He picks up a handbook of the most dangerous places on Earth and finds New York City. So there he goes in search of an adventure in the urban, exotic environment many Japanese youths only know by its Hollywood depictions and once sordid reputation. Quickly Shin finds himself an alien in the big city, even getting mugged on his first day. But when he meets Lee, a Japanese-American hustling on the street with a coterie of minor gangland troublemakers, he finds his way into the subculture of urban anarchy he's been looking for. Imagine a mash-up Kubrick's droogs, Trainspotting'sBegbie and those crazy Italian youths from Gomorrah, with Lee as their "artful dodger." We're in the strange world of Japanese extreme cinema here and this one is off-the-wall even by Japanese standards. The New York in this picture is a cinematic impression of the city completely outside of reality but from the peculiar Japanese point of view of a big, bad, alien and thus hazardous environment. Of course, we don't get traditional storytelling either. Instead, writer/director Sion Sono coasts on a constant flow of freewheeling chaos. He shoots the film using a mixture of English and Japanese on location in New York with super-grainy, lightweight cameras. I imagine few if any permits or organized crowd control shots were involved, and Sono has his actors often interacting with local New Yorkers on the streets with a kinetic, run and gun, "let's steal the shot" attitude. There's an exhaustion that sets in somewhere around the midpoint when social disturbance after social disturbance becomes repetitious, as Lee and his gang, seemingly without an off-button, continue to throw their hands in the air and yell "woooo" in praise of their disdain for authority. Hazardis definitely not for the mainstream but might pique the interest of fans of Japanese extreme cinema and urban subculture. The Evocative Films disc is well-packaged, with a healthy liner notebook of thoughtful essays and stills about the film. The special features include a behind-the-scenes making-of documentary (in Japanese-only) and an informative interview with Sono discussing his inspirations for the film. (Evokative)