Most Gloriously Unhinged Director – Sion Sono (Tokyo Vampire Hotel)

When Sion Sono has a film in competition, he’ll typically win any accolades that involve the word “unhinged.” That said, Tokyo Vampire Hotel is some next-level bloodsucker embattlement. Corvin vampires lure mortals into their fancy “hotel” with intent to feed. Dracula purebloods are trapped underground in Romania, or Japan, or wherever the “hotel” exists. A “chosen one” learns of her Corvin-hunter fate from a Dracula assassin and must crash the promised fleshsack sex party.

Oh, did I mention that Tokyo Vampire Hotel takes place almost entirely inside a Corvin princess’ vagina? That’s where the hotel is. In her vagina. Yes, Amazon Studios funded a Sion Sono production and here’s what they got.

That’s only the beginning of Sono’s maverick sensationalism. Tokyo Vampire Hotel exists as a 9-episode Japanese Amazon show that was edited down to 142 minutes, causing continuity to be somewhat of a Rubix cube sans a few colored tiles. Sono sticks to car shootouts, vampire gang fights and random romantic angles that never explain themselves, because who needs massive exposition sequences? Then, for the last forty-five or so minutes, Tokyo Vampire Hotel becomes a massive extension of Kill Bill’s Crazy 88 massacre except it’s humans vs vampires vs other vampires. Blood everywhere, decapitated heads tossed like beach balls, killing upon killing upon even more killing. When in doubt, abandon story in favor of gushing blood geysers. Sion Sono, never change.

Best Swordplay – “K” (Tokyo Vampire Hotel)

In Tokyo Vampire Hotel, Dracula’s agent of chaos “K” (Kaho) slices and dices her way through Corvin adversaries like a Sunday in the park. As a warrior, she’s competent beyond surgical limb removal. When angry, shadowed in black and white, emotions render her a cruel dealer of death who doesn’t even pay passing glances towards enemies during their last gasps of life. Don Lee is a bruiser, don’t get me wrong, but “K” is little Miss Sick with a steel blade. Ease, grace, and malevolence douse hallway brawls that’d make Oh Dae-Su (Oldboy) give a second look. Precision, thy name only needs one letter.

The Outlaws Review

Best Action Scene – The Bathroom Scene (The Outlaws)

You’re not escaping without more praise being heaped onto The Outlaws. In this case, 2018 now has two “bathroom” action sequences worth raving about. First is obviously Mission Impossible – Fallout, but an unlikely second is a finale brawl between Don Lee and his adversary played by Yoon Kye-Sang. The duo tears an airport restroom apart from urinals to glass plating to floral decorations. Kye-Sang isn’t accepting his prison sentence in good faith, so you better expect flinch-a-second inflictions of harm. No leaving on free will. Good thing Lee is down for the hardcore match, all starting with the “Oh shit!” moment of Kye-Sang glimpsing his pursuer cheekily rinsing his hands to kill time. Pound-for-pound a most exquisite action standoff to leave Fantasia 2018 bruised and bashed-in with the best of intentions.

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