Newsletter: ‘Mad Tiger’ looks at the odd Japanese indie punk band Peelander-Z


New York-based Japanese indie punk band Peelander-Z travels down the well-trodden road to oblivion in the documentary “Mad Tiger,” headbanging through a set list of rock’s greatest cliches that the mockumentary “This Is Spinal Tap” had uncannily satirized.

Basing their stage act on Power Rangers and professional wrestling, Peelander-Z members accessorize themselves with color-coordinated Spandex — like over-age cosplayers at Comic-Con — to pull off such stunts as “human bowling” during their club dates.

It’s not fun and games behind the music, though. “Mad Tiger” charts the succession of the band’s personnel changes, as members outgrow the juvenile shtick, communal bunk beds and constant put-downs from their dictatorial leader, Kengo Hioki, a.k.a. Peelander Yellow.


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In this uncritical look at the group and its music, directors Jonathan Yi and Michael Haertlein put the focus on the standard reality-TV repertoire like “Making the Band.” Their repeated disregard for Hioki’s pleas to go off the record smacks of opportunism and exploitation rather than revelation.

Left unexamined in the film is the anomaly of a punk band formed by Japanese musicians who never attempted to break into the lucrative pop scene back home but, instead, peddle their accented broken English and lost-in-translation exoticism to a cult following in America.


‘Mad Tiger’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 21 minutes

Playing: Downtown Independent, Los Angeles