“Taste of my blood. And walk as a Yakuza vampire.”
So yeah, after all these Oscar-bait movies we’ve been, err, treated to lately, what I needed for a bit of a break was a decent palette cleanser. Something truly stupid that I didn’t have to concentrate on and could switch off and enjoy for a bit. A good silly film.
I should have been careful what I wished for.
The latest cinematic entry from legendary director Takashi Miike – the nutter behind classics like Audition and Ichi the Killer – has found its way into a whole three cinemas in the country (or VOD in a butt load of other territories) so I headed off to find myself a little indie picture house to get myself a piece of the latest bit of Miike craziness.
Akira Kageyama (Hayato Ichihara) is a young member of the local Yakuza, still learning the ropes and finding his place in the world. A turf war with a rival gang leads to his boss being killed in the street and his head being twisted off and left for Kageyama to retrieve. But while apologising to the disembodied head, it comes back to life and insists that he drink blood from the manky, torn apart neck of the old gang leader. Before Akira has a chance to question the dead head, it leaps from his hands and takes a bite from his neck, turning the man into a vampire!
Stay with me…
Kageyama’s instant transformation from man to vampire and his bloodlust mean that once he gets up off his arse, he’s heading around and biting the throats of anyone he can find and turning them into… wait for it… Yakuza vampires! Yep. Yakuza Vampires! Insanity ensues as the town fills with vampires horribly fast and as each one believes they are also a part of the Yakuza, they chase down other Yakuza to kill too!
Now, those of you that haven’t seen a Takashi Miike film before, I should tell you now that the guy is twisted! You’ll never read a synopsis of one of his films and have an idea of what you’re letting yourself in for; this is most true with his very bizarre definition of the word “Comedy”! In reality, Yakuza Apocalypse is two hours of the goofy director’s brain spewed across the screen in many and varied wonderful colours. Starting off very straight and almost serious, Yakuza Apocalypse quickly descends into bat-shit crazy territory as a weird dude dressed up like a cowboy priest, including spurs on his damn boots, takes out the boss with his partner, an unnamed bloke who would just look like a tourist in his glasses, high waisted jeans and plaid shirt if it wasn’t for the fact that you can easily spot The Raid‘s Yayan Ruhian under those glasses.
Talking heads quickly appear to be the most sane thing to be coming from the screen as we are treated to a room filled with men chained to tables all knitting scarves as their captor – for reasons best known to himself – walks around in massive wooden sandals stomping on the sewing circle’s feet. Kageyama is taught how to be a vampire via an old man with pre-prepared chalk boards and blank pieces of paper; and brains exploding out of people’s ears like a giant zit being popped!
But the ultimate moment of what-the-fuckery, the dude in a giant furry frog suit, wandering around karate chopping the shit out of the Yakuza! No explanation, no dialogue; just some dodgy mind controlling eyes, some time with a baseball bat and a shit load of Karate! To explain the frog further would ruin him, but suffice to say that by the time he’s explained, you know what’s coming, but that doesn’t stop it from being completely ridiculous and chuckle inducing.
Yakuza Apocalypse makes no apologies for what it is. It is a completely bonkers horror comedy that is horrendously bloody, but equally as funny. The comedy bounces brazenly between hilarious and eyebrow raising weirdness and while it’s not the greatest flick you’re going to watch, it’s got more moments that’ll leave you going “what the FUCK?” than any other film I’ve seen recently. Would I say you must watch it? No, absolutely not. But I would say that it’s worth taking a look at if the idea of furries beating the shit out of vampire yakuza is one that makes you smile.
It’s that kind of weird-funny that you get when you are deliriously tired and find everything just absolutely hilarious. I wasn’t sure what I was letting myself in for; Takashi is definitely a bit of an acquired taste and I much prefer his darker films; but I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Yakuza Apocalypse.