Yakuza Apocalypse (2015)

Posted in Reviews by - July 24, 2016
Yakuza Apocalypse (2015)

Where do you start in describing this rollicking, satirical, often brutal and downright weird movie? What begins as a Goodfellas-style Yakuza film about one man’s journey to the top of the criminal fraternity, quickly takes a left turn when the gang’s benevolent boss is revealed to be a bloodthirsty vampire. The Yakuza have become all-powerful in a poverty-stricken, post-apocalyptic town ravished by aftershocks and what looks to be the result of a nuclear fallout (this is clearly a reference the 2011 tsunami and the subsequent Fukushima disaster). But then an English-speaking Japanese Quaker with a giant stun gun and The Raid‘s Yayan Ruhian – dressed like a nerdy kung fu tourist – drop into town and rip off the boss’ head, throwing all semblance of normality out of whack. The boss’ protege, Kageyama (Hayato Ichihara) – who dearly wants to be a Yakuza icon despite the fact he can’t get a tattoo because of his sensitive skin – picks up his leader’s still active decapitated head and is bitten in the neck, becoming an all-powerful Yakuza vampire. He struggles to control his bloodthirsty rage and soon all the village folk are infected, taking huge chunks out of each other before turning on their criminal overlords. The remaining Yakuza who planned the coup quickly become desperate and fractured, led by a lady who goes completely mad and believes she can harvest a new community by pouring milk over patches of soil, and a ‘kappa’ character from Japanese folklore, which is essentially a stinky goblin clown thing with a beak. The film culminates in a spaghetti western show down with Kageyama having a kung fu battle with a man in a giant frog costume. Fans of Takashi Miike’s diverse portfolio will expect this level of subversiveness, and the Ichi the Killer director certainly upholds his reputation as one of Japan’s most confrontational filmmakers. Typically, of course, he punctuates this crazy film with moments of perfect stillness, like Kageyama’s tender relationship with a recuperating rape victim, and even his wildest characters are imbued with a certain nuance and charm. It’s probably not the sort of thing to sit and watch with grandma, but fans of far-out far eastern product should feel right at home.

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