YAKUZA APOCALYPSE (2015)
aka Gokudou Daisensou
Directed by Takashi Miike
Japanese and English Language with Subtitles
In UK cinemas on 6th January 2016 only
Kagayama, a young Yakuza protege, is forced to step up to the plate when his beloved boss Kamiura is brutally murdered. Vowing revenge against the assassins, Kagayama has a tough road ahead of him after he discovers Kamiura’s secret which he inherits after the murder… a secret which will affect everyone around him.
Japanese auteur Takashi Miike has unleashed insane action flick YAKUZA APOCALYPSE upon the movie-going public and it may just be the zaniest thing I’ve seen all year.
The film opens up much like Goodfellas where Ray Liotta talks about how he always wanted to be a gangster except in this instance it’s the film’s protagonist Kagayama and how he always wanted to become a Yakuza member, not only for the impressive back tattoo his boss Kamiura sports but for the pride and power it instills in the community. The civilians love Kamiura as he does all he can to protect the town he watches over, even financially helping out those in need. However, it seems Kamiura has a well-kept secret that has the potential to destroy everything in its wake – will Kagayama be able to control it as well as his late boss could to prevent total catastrophe and, dare I say, an apocalypse of gigantic proportions?
YAKUZA APOCALYPSE combines two of horrors leading genres for this bat-shit crazy effort that includes the acting and combat chops of The Raid‘s Yayan ‘Mad Dog’ Ruhian who stars as lethal yet nerdy looking ‘tourist’ assassin Kyoken who works for a travelling priest. The fight scenes conjured up between Kagayama and Kyoken are thrilling to watch with each putting in a fine display of strikes to thrill any action fan. The priest, however, has no combat skills of his own but wields a powerful weapon that he uses against the enemies of his boss, a smelly, strange, turtle-human hybrid (Kappa). No-one though can compare to the most dangerous assassin of all – a man in a frog costume who has the power to paralyse anyone he gazes upon with his crazy frog stare. You think you know weird? Well, you ain’t seen nothing yet!
I could write loads about YAKUZA APOCALYPSE and its super-strange yet delightful plot but half the fun is discovering and enjoying it for yourself. Does it make sense? The core of it does but overall it doesn’t matter – what matters in this particular film is the journey. The film is so out-there and wacky that it’s hard not to love. Part of its charm is thanks to endearing, captivating lead Hayato Ichihara as Kagayama, a protagonist that the viewer can easily get behind with his kind-hearted nature and quest to look after his people. It also helps that he’s a bit of a dish.
A terrific lead, intense fight scenes, the crazy set of characters and the ultimate in finales means YAKUZA APOCALYPSE is an entertaining blast from start to finish with a hint at a possible sequel that could be even wackier than this offering.