films seen
41
average score
3.17*
nationality
Japan - 60 years old
status
Alive and kicking
more info

One of the thriving creative voices of modern Japanese cinema. Sono's films are loud, in your face and unpredictable. Entertaining, but not without depth and vision, always challenging the status quo. It's people like Sono who keep cinema interesting.

Rare treats

Antiporno

by Sion Sono
Anchiporuno
2016 / 76m - Japan
Mystery
Antiporno poster

Antiporno is a zany, extrovert and anything but subtle piece of cinema with the potential to be very divisive. It's not for everybody, but Sono fans are sure to have a blast with this one.

The Whispering Star

by Sion Sono
Hiso Hiso Boshi
2015 / 100m - Japan
Drama, Sci-fi
The Whispering Star poster

It's original, quirky, stylish and otherworldly, which is quite a feat considering Sono's track record. A tough cookie on the outside, but incredibly rich in taste and texture on the inside.

Tokyo Tribe

by Sion Sono
2014 / 116m - Japan
Action, Musical
Tokyo Tribe poster

A killer ride from beginning to end. It's brutal, outrageous, funny, weird and it has a terrific drive. If you dismiss films that are pure escapist fun, you shouldn't even venture near it.

Tag

by Sion Sono
Riaru Onigokko
2015 / 85m - Japan
Horror, Mystery
Tag poster

There are some very memorable scenes and the acting is spot on, add some nice-looking camera work and a great score and it's clear Sion Sono has another winner on his hands.

Tokyo Vampire Hotel - The Movie

by Sion Sono
2017 / 142m - Japan
Fantasy, Horror
Tokyo Vampire Hotel - The Movie poster

Absolutely batshit crazy vampire flick from Sono. This film is the condensed version of the TV series and it does show in places (the pacing and stylistic finish can be a bit wobbly), but man it this a blast. Colorful cinematography, colorful characters, gallons of blood, Sono's signature madness and an onslaught of memorable moments make this an absolute delight. I'm actually interested in watching the series now, though I'm glad I watched the film version first. A delight.

The Forest of Love

by Sion Sono
Ai-naki Mori de Sakebe
2019 / 151m - Japan
Thriller, Crime
The Forest of Love poster

The Forest of Love is a film about a loose canon in a world gone mad. As things start to spiral out of control, Sono rids himself of every last bit of restraint and delivers a film full of raw energy and excess, raging towards a completely warped and grueling finale. Not for the faint of heart, but Sono fans are sure to have a blast with this one.

Why Don't You Play in Hell?

by Sion Sono
Jigoku de Naze Warui
2013 / 126m - Japan
Comedy
Why Don't You Play in Hell? poster

Watching Why Don't You Play In Hell? will tell you a few things about Sono's dreams and aspirations as a young director.

Strange Circus

by Sion Sono
Kimyo na Sakasu
2005 / 108m - Japan
Horror
Strange Circus poster

Strange Circus is a stellar film that still counts as one of Sono's absolute best efforts to date. The subject matter is rather risqué though and Sono's approach is far from subtle.

Cold Fish

by Sion Sono
Tsumetai Nettaigyo
2010 / 144m - Japan
Thriller
Cold Fish poster

Cold Fish is a film that will sit well with those who appreciate awkward, cruel and excessive Japanese cinema.

Himizu

by Sion Sono
2011 / 129m - Japan
Drama, Thriller
Himizu poster

The first fifteen minutes where a little though, but once Sumida starts his descent into madness the film never back down.

The good stuff

Love/Exposure

by Sion Sono
Ai no Mukidashi
2008 / 237m - Japan
Comedy, Drama
Love/Exposure poster

Don't let that hold you back though. Love Exposure is a great experience, offering lots of weirdness, fun and shock while never boring its audience.

The Bastard and the Beautiful World

by Yûichi Kodama, Sion Sono, Kenji Yamauchi, Hikari Ôta
Kuso Yarô to Utsukushiki Sekai
2018 / 105m - Japan
Comedy, Crime
The Bastard and the Beautiful World poster

A Japanese anthology sporting three oddball stories and a wrap-around segment that doesn't really wrap around the others, but bundles the conclusions of each short and saves them for the finale. It's a bit of an odd concept, it doesn't make too much sense to be honest, then again it's clear the directors were more concerned with creating something fresh and fun. The result is pretty successful too. Each story is cool in its own way, the actors are in on the joke and there are plenty of stand-out scenes, with Sono's segment sticking out as the best of the bunch.

Exte: Hair Extensions

by Sion Sono
Ekusute
2007 / 108m - Japan
Horror
Exte: Hair Extensions poster

Exte: Hair Extensions might feel like his most commercial film to date, but that is mostly a disguise. It's a fun, crazy and surprisingly eerie film.

Shinjuku Swan

by Sion Sono
Shinjuku Suwan
2015 / 139m - Japan
Crime
Shinjuku Swan poster

What Shinjuku Swan may lack in originality, it makes up for in rock-solid execution.

Guilty of Romance

by Sion Sono
Koi no Tsumi
2011 / 144m - Japan
Thriller
Guilty of Romance poster

Guilty of Romance may not be Sono's brightest, most ambitious or most accomplished work, but it's a more than solid addition to Sono's already strong oeuvre.

Shinjuku Swan II

by Sion Sono
Shinjuku Suwan II
2017 / 133m - Japan
Action, Crime
4.0*/5.0*
Shinjuku Swan II poster

A fine sequel to the first film, that succeeds in offering more of the same, only in a slightly different way. Tadanobu Asano is a real asset, Sono's talent is unmistakable and while a bit long, the film never drags or gets boring. If you liked the first film, this is an easy recommend, just make sure to watch that one first.

Solid pieces

Prisoners of the Ghostland

by Sion Sono
2021 / 103m - USA
Action, Horror
3.5*/5.0*
Prisoners of the Ghostland poster

The mere idea of Sion Sono and Nicolas Cage making a film together made many cult fan drool uncontrollably. And sure enough, it did sound like a pretty perfect combination. This could very well become Sono's Sukiyaki Western Django, though I'm sure Sono himself would resent the Miike comparison. Sadly for him, Miike also did it better.

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The premise is pretty simple, which is normal considering this is more or less a Mad Max clone. The governor's daughter has run away, so he straps a jailed criminal into a highly explosive suit, and he gives him five days to find her. The post-apocalyptic wastelands are very hazardous territory though, so finding her and taking her back in one piece won't be a trivial task.

Marrying Japanese and American influences within a film is never easy, and there are moments when Sono stumbles. There's plenty of crazy and the film certainly has its share of memorable ideas, but it never really culminates in the cult cool you'd expect from a project like this. The sets are creative and colorful, the characters are mad and the pacing is perfect, even so the film lacks impact. A minor disappointment.

Red Post on Escher Street

by Sion Sono
Escher Dori no Akai Posuto
2020 / 149m - Japan
Comedy, Drama
3.5*/5.0*
Red Post on Escher Street poster

Sono's latest is a pretty light film. There's none of his usual craziness (or at least, very little), there's no excessive violence, harsh drama or over-the-top absurdities. It's actually a film you can watch with your family around. So instead we get a slightly larger than life comedy that meanders from beginning to end.

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Kobayashi is a popular and respected director. For his next film he's looking for a cast of amateur actors, so he spreads his casting call around and accepts all the applications. The film plays like a series of vignettes, detailing the lives of all the people who applied for the audition.

150 minutes is a bit much for a film with no clear endgame. Performances are good (Morgan Mara is a real find - I'm certain we'll be seeing her again), the cinematography is nice and there are some solid smiles, but in the end it lacks something that kept me fully engaged for the entire runtime. Not Sono's best, but even his more pedestrian films are well worth a watch.

Love & Peace

by Sion Sono
Rabu & Pîsu
2015 / 117m - Japan
Comedy, Drama, Romance, Musical
3.5*/5.0*
Love & Peace poster

The Virgin Psychics

by Sion Sono
Eiga: Minna! Esupâ Da Yo!
2015 / 114m - Japan
Comedy, Drama, Mystery
3.5*/5.0*
The Virgin Psychics poster

The Land of Hope

by Sion Sono
Kibô no Kuni
2012 / 133m - Japan
Drama, Sci-fi
3.5*/5.0*
The Land of Hope poster

Be Sure to Share

by Sion Sono
Chanto Tsutaeru
2009 / 109m - Japan
Drama
3.5*/5.0*
Be Sure to Share poster

Hazard

by Sion Sono
2005 / 103m - Japan
Drama, Crime
3.5*/5.0*
Hazard poster

Into a Dream

by Sion Sono
Yume no Naka E
2005 / 103m - Japan
Comedy, Drama
3.5*/5.0*
Into a Dream poster

The Real Body

by Sion Sono
Utsushimi
2000 / 110m - Japan
Comedy, Drama, Romance
3.5*/5.0*
The Real Body poster

The inoffensive

Balloon Club, Afterwards

by Sion Sono
Kikyû Kurabu, Sonogo
2006 / 93m - Japan
Drama
3.0*/5.0*
Balloon Club, Afterwards poster

Noriko's Dinner Table

by Sion Sono
Noriko no Shokutaku
2005 / 159m - Japan
Drama, Horror
3.0*/5.0*
Noriko's Dinner Table poster

Suicide Circle

by Sion Sono
Jisatsu Sâkuru
2001 / 99m - Japan
Horror, Mystery, Thriller
3.0*/5.0*
Suicide Circle poster

The Room

by Sion Sono
Heya
1993 / 92m - Japan
Drama, Thriller
3.0*/5.0*
The Room poster

Worthy but flawed

Make the Last Wish

by Sion Sono
2009 / 109m - Japan
Mystery, Thriller
2.5*/5.0*
Make the Last Wish poster

A strange mix of supernatural, thriller and documentary elements. Sono crashes an Avril Lavigne fan contest and weaves his own story through it. The result is a little messy and the film doesn't feel very polished, but it's an intriguing mess that did keep me engaged from start to finish. Far from Sono's best, but decent filler nonetheless.

Dubious filler

Bad Film

by Sion Sono
Warui Eiga
2012 / 161m - Japan
Comedy, Action, Crime
2.0*/5.0*
Bad Film poster

I Am Keiko

by Sion Sono
Keiko Desu Kedo
1997 / 61m - Japan
Drama
2.0*/5.0*
I Am Keiko poster

Love

by Sion Sono
Ai
1986 / 31m - Japan
Romance, Experimental
2.0*/5.0*
Love poster

Another early Sono short, where he once again features as the lead character. This time he's madly in love (hence the title), though I'm not sure if it matters all that much. These films seem to follow a pretty fixed structure, where Sono is basically filming his young, hyperactive self.

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The technical qualities are poor and amateurish, the image quality is extremely grainy, the camera work is rough and the use of the soundtrack is very basic. Half of the time it's just Sono himself shouting things at the camera, the other half are some random scenes that hardly connect to the broader whole.

But there's a lot of energy and even though individual scenes don't really impress, the whole is vibrant and alive. It does offer an interesting window in Sono's mind and fans of the man's work will have an easy time connecting the dots, as a stand-alone work it isn't quite as interesting though.

I Am Sono Sion!

by Sion Sono
Ore Wa Sono Sion Da!
1985 / 35m - Japan
Documentary
2.0*/5.0*
I Am Sono Sion! poster

A very early documentary from Sion Sono, where he turns the camera on himself. Don't expect to be informed though, it's really just Sono going crazy with a camera and experimenting away. It's as crazy as you'd expect an early Sono to be, though you have to wonder whether this was ever meant to be released.

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Image and sound quality are absolutely terrible. The grainy cinematography, fuzzy image quality and haphazard camera work are no doubt due to the poor equipment and Sono's own inexperience, some will consider it part of the charm, but I'm not a big fan. It just comes off as very amateurish.

Still, Sono's potential is already clearly visible. There are some strange stop motion bits, exaggerated sound, a lot of random weirdness and Sono himself clowning around. It's an interesting film for fans of the man's work, or people who love crazy and experimental documentaries, just don't expect anything polished.

Plain forgettable

Virtual Love

by Sion Sono
2003 / 35m - Japan
Drama, Sci-fi
1.5*/5.0*
Virtual Love poster

An obscure Sono short. I'm not really sure what the idea or concept was here, but this felt considerably more amateurish than its age would suggest. It's probably some special Sono did for TV, but don't expect too much going in. There are slivers of an interesting concept, but Sono does very little with them.

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Virtual Love is about a young girl who starts working as a virtual escort. She takes on clients and spends time with them, making their lives a bit more enjoyable. She gets help from a second girl, teaching her how to act and behave, whilst the whole thing is recorded and can be sold later on.

The titular love is romance, not sex, so don't watch it if that's what you're after. The premise is kinda fun, but the performances are pretty weak and the film looks and sounds terribly cheap. There's not enough time to properly explore the plot, at this point I expect way more from Sono, even (or maybe especially) when it's only a short.

Bicycle Sighs

by Sion Sono
Jitensha Toiki
1990 / 93m - Japan
Drama
1.5*/5.0*
Bicycle Sighs poster

Big nopes

Venice 70: Future Reloaded

by Hala Abdallah, John Akomfrah, Catherine Breillat, Júlio Bressane, Rama Burshtein, Antonio Capuano, Peter Ho-Sun Chan, Isabel Coixet, Amiel Courtin-Wilson, Claire Denis, Lav Diaz, Amit Dutta, Atom Egoyan, Aleksey Fedorchenko, Frédéric Fonteyne, James Franco, Lluís Galter, Haile Gerima, Aleksey German, Amos Gitai, Sang-soo Hong, Benoît Jacquot, Zhangke Jia, Semih Kaplanoglu, Abbas Kiarostami, Yorgos Lanthimos, Pablo Larraín, Tobias Lindholm, Guido Lombardi, Jazmín López, Samuel Maoz, Pietro Marcello, Brillante Mendoza, Celina Murga, Amir Naderi, Shirin Neshat, Nicolás Pereda, Franco Piavoli, Giuseppe Piccioni, Edgar Reitz, João Pedro Rodrigues, Walter Salles, Paul Schrader, Ulrich Seidl, Luca Severi, Sion Sono, Jean-Marie Straub, Tusi Tamasese, Tariq Teguia, Pablo Trapero, Athina Rachel Tsangari, Teresa Villaverde, Bing Wang, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Andrew Wonder, Yonfan, Krzysztof Zanussi, Karim Aïnouz, Bernardo Bertolucci, Jan Cvitkovic, Davide Ferrario, Monte Hellman, Marlen Khutsiev, Milcho Manchevski, Franco Maresco, Salvatore Mereu, Ermanno Olmi, Michele Placido, Todd Solondz, Shekhar Kapur, Heeraz Marfatia, Ki-duk Kim, Shinya Tsukamoto
2013 / 120m - USA
Documentary
1.0*/5.0*
Venice 70: Future Reloaded poster

Decisive Match! Girls Dorm against Boys Dorm

by Sion Sono
Kessen! Joshiryou tai Danshiryou
1988 / 90m - Japan
Drama
1.0*/5.0*
Decisive Match! Girls Dorm against Boys Dorm poster

A Man's Flower Road

by Sion Sono
Otoko no Hanamichi
1986 / 110m - Japan
Drama
1.0*/5.0*
A Man's Flower Road poster

Irritation overload

Teachers of Sexual Play: Modelling Urns with the Female Body

by Sion Sono
Seigi no Tatsujin - Nyotai Tsubo Saguri
2000 / 59m - Japan
Comedy
0.5*/5.0*
Teachers of Sexual Play: Modelling Urns with the Female Body poster

Reflect On That Boys

by Sion Sono
1989 / 41m - Japan
Drama
0.5*/5.0*
Reflect On That Boys poster

Peculiar timing, but Sion Sono's early (and only) AV film became available just a few weeks ago. It's an extremely bare-bones affair, with virtually no plot and a limited runtime that spans four bouts of sex. There's little here for film fans, only Sono completists (and AV collectors) need to take an interest.

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Two women are candidly talking about their sexual adventures. One girl loves the act and simply wants to have as much sex as possible, only the men don't always please her. Another girl tries to get over the loss of her brother by sleeping around. After each session, they give a short commentary on their experience.

The film looks atrocious, there isn't happening anything except two people having sex and the documentary bits surrounding these scenes add little to nothing. It's one of the worst films Sono has ever made, so thank God it was rather short. It's best to stay away from this altogether, unless you really want to watch everything Sono has ever put out.