Review by Bradley Smith
Have you ever watched a movie and thought, “I haven’t a clue what’s going on here, but I like it”. That is pretty much how I felt when watching Yakuza Apocalypse. It is an insane fast-paced thrill ride featuring above average martial arts, vampires, and a mishmash of action, comedy, and confusion. Director Takashi Miike is apparently known for violent and bizarre films and this probably will not disappoint fans of violent and bizarre martial arts films.
First, a quick background lesson for those that aren’t aware (like myself prior to watching this film): the Yakuza are a type of organized crime syndicate originating from Japan. Ok, now for the movie. The film starts out focusing on one top level Yakuza boss who seems to be invincible. Numerous bullets can be fired at him and he’ll just keep going. This is because he is a vampire; though not quite invincible as we find out during a borderline disturbing fight scene. When he… dies… his powers pass on to his second in command who slowly learns to deal with them and then seeks revenge for his boss.
I admit I had some trouble following the plot at first. It might be a language barrier issue as the film is mostly in Japanese or maybe the writer and director meant for it to be wonderfully weird and illogical. Fights would start seemingly at random; there’s a person with a beak like a bird; there’s a dream sequence where tadpole eggs are a meal; and there’s a character that I equated to a more active, violent, live-action version of Futurama’s Hypnotoad (All Glory to the Hypnotoad). It looks like a guy in a giant frog outfit with unbelievable martial arts skills, but then the eyes of the costume change and have hypnotic powers. And then there’s other scenes during the climax that involve the “Hypnotoad” and grenades… no spoilers, but those scenes will implant this movie in my memory for a long while.
The acting is over the top and the special effects range from awesome to (seemingly intentionally) laughable. If you can tolerate the subtitles (or if you speak both Japanese and English- it does have a few lines in English) and just go along with the madness, you will likely enjoy this “martial arts extravaganza”. I made note of 2 quotes from the film that seem to sum up the movie pretty well: “We don’t care about winning and losing. We just f@#$ing fight.” and “Subtract stupid from yakuza and you’ve got nothing left.”
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