Ah Takashi Miike, one of the most prolific directors around, he makes a crazy amount of films each year and this, Yakuza Apocalypse, is about as crazy as it gets. You’ll probably know Miike’s other films, Crows series and 13 Assassins better, that is until you see this one, as it’s not something you’ll forget.
The film is about a Yakuza boss, who is also a vampire. He is tracked down by an English speaking man who wants him to join him. The boss declines and is killed by the man’s helper who happens to be the legendary Yayan Ruhian (The Raid films). Even though the boss has his head ripped off, he manages to bite his second in command, Kagayama – played by Hayato Ichihara (The Brothers Karamazov, Saru Lock) – and thereby turn him into a vampire who promptly sets about turning everyone in the village into a vampire before finally getting under control and seeking revenge for the boss’s death. Crazy enough for you? No? How about a penultimate fight scene involving a vampire yakuza and a man in a giant green…er…frog(?) costume known as Kaeru-kun?
As you’d expect from a Takashi Miike production there’s no shortage of blood, gore, splatter, crunching sound effects and overall bizarreness. There’s also a bit of humour thrown in for good measure, in fact there’s quite a lot of tongue-in-cheek-ness about it all. Kagayama certainly looks on things with a ‘huh?’ about him.
The fight scenes, not counting the final one, are all well shot though over a little too quickly. Oddly, the moment Kaeru-kun (the big green frog thing) is given a baseball bat in a cellar, is also the moment Miike’s directorial and humorous side blend the best. The shots of Kaeru-kun, arched back, baseball bat in the air ready to pounce are brilliant and funny all in one, satisfyingly odd!
I say all, not counting the final one as I thought we were all set to see a final showdown between Kagayama and Yayan Ruhian’s character but it doesn’t quite happen. This, obviously, is a shame as Ruhian is an amazing fighter, luckily you get to see him flex earlier in the film. The final fight is a bit more serious, a bit out-of-place compared with what’s just gone on in the previous almost two hours. It’s also two men punching each other in the head. So…that’s nice!
If you like any of Miike’s previous films then you’ll love this too. If you’re expecting a serious martial arts film, another 13 Assassins say, I’d probably give it a miss.