Yakuza Apocalypse

Yakuza Apocalypse

"Sometimes yakuza just gotta go wild."

The latest Takashi Miike film to reach our shores is Yakuza Apocalypse, which lives up to both parts of its title since it's centered on the struggle for control of a yakuza clan and there is an apocalypse. The power struggle comes about because boss Kamiura (Lily Frankie), who also happens to be a vampire, is beheaded by an old foe, but as its final act the head put the bite on his protege Kageyama (Hayato Ichihara), thus turning the young yakuza into a bulletproof bloodsucker like him. And the apocalypse happens because, well, it's hard to explain, but it involves Kaera-kun, a legendary ass-kicker in a felt frog suit who's billed as "the world's toughest terrorist," but still needs help walking up and down stairs. It's that kind of a movie.

Of course, Miike has been down this road before. 2003's Gozu was about a yakuza underling who has an intimate encounter with the titular cow-headed creature and its long tongue, and one of the otherworldly beings in this film -- a bird-beaked, turtle-shell-backed kappa goblin -- looks like a refugee from 2005's The Great Yokai War. And the priest all in black with the wide-brimmed hat and coffin on his back could have very well stepped out of 2007's Sukiyaki Western Django. There's no real precedent for Kaera-kun, though, whose foes underestimate him at their peril. When one of the characters heralds his arrival by saying, "He's coming. At last," it's easy to echo the sentiment and maybe even wish he'd shown up a little earlier.