Yakuza Apocalypse

Yakuza Apocalypse ★★★½

Oooooo, so close. We very nearly got a Takashi Miike film that managed to reign its weirdness in to enable a somewhat 'normal' film to be told. Nearly.......

The first 45 mins are about as traditional as you can get - a cool set up of an old, beloved and very benevolent Yakuza boss takes a younger protege under his wing. There's hints of something amiss - the old guy is shown to be indestructible, and his fave bar has a rather odd knitting club (yes - knitting) in its basement that is used for.......something unsavoury. Then, as a strange double act of a clergyman decked out like one of the three bad dudes from Big Trouble in Little China and the hard ass from The Raid, dressed as an uber nerd, show up and take out the boss, strange (ok.....stranger!) things start to happen.

So, no real spoilers, but turns out the old gangster sensei was a vampire (its in the trailers and all the marketing blurb!) who turns his protégé into the similarly undead with his final breath/bite. And THEN all hell breaks loose. Turns out, its a very specific type of vampirism - Yakuza vampires, meaning everyone bitten also turns into a yakuza as well as a vamp. Cue scenes of rib tickling amusement as hard-ass yakuzas are taken down by school teachers, et al. So its starting to get a bit weird just past the hour mark.........and as we enter the final 30 mins, all bets are off. We get dudes in footy mascot costumes kicking all manner of crap out of everyone, we get the world under threat from a giant frog, we get a blinged out disco truck that packs some serious weaponry.....its basically Miike at his most gonzo.

Its mostly restrained in that its only the plot that goes fruit loops and its very watchable, as long as you don't expect it all to tie up nice and simply. Its a shame that the final shot shows what could have been (think more trad vampire monsteryness) and if we had more of that monstery goodness instead of the usual Miike randonmness, we maybe would have got a better film. But what the hell, then I suppose it wouldn't be a Miike film would it?????? Its a good old watch but be warned, it does descend into utter lunacy at the end. And I do mean utter lunacy......

Summary - its Takashi Miike. Restrained at the start but gradually turning into full on Miike by the end. A cool concept that could have been better given the final shot promising something different to what we got, its still well worth a watch for fans of gonzo Japanese cinema.

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