Yakuza Apocalypse is a unique, colourful, blood thirsty masterpiece whose brilliance should not be overlooked. The latest film by the master of genre and reinvention, Takashi Miike (Audition, Over Your Dead Body) returns with this blood soaked rag of hyperactive madness, which pulls influence from horror, comedy, action and thriller (with a smattering of anime on top). Never one to be placed in a neat box, Miike has once again outdone himself with a film that leaves the audience wanting more.
Set in the deadly world of the Yakuza, the boss Kamiura (Rirî Furankî) has never been beaten. He looks after the residents in his quarters, removes anything that may get in his way and demands the respect of all around him as well as their money. There were always rumours about his strength and his abilities but no one ever questioned him. Kagayama (Hayato Ichihara) is one of Kamiura’s loyal aids whose only ambition is to learn the way of his boss and one day become as respected as him. But when a group of deadly assassins arrive to deliver Kamiura an ultimatum, everything is revealed. Kamiura is actually a vampire Yakuza boss and he is being ordered to return back to the syndicate where he came from. But he has no interest in this. After a deadly battle, Kamiura is slaughtered and his dead chopped off but with his dying breath he bites Kagayama whose desire to avenge his boss becomes his goal.
First and foremost Yakuza Apocalypse is impeccably made – the story, the acting, the colours and the action all mould together to create a film that is easy to follow and appreciate. As the story becomes more extreme and moves into the realms of fantasy, the characters become more interesting as there is a depth to them that is often missing from films of a similar elk. Be it Kagayama’s learning of what being a vampire means and accidentally turning the whole village into Yakuza vampires, or the rest of the gang’s hope that if they grow more human followers they will not lose out of getting money from them. These are very human stories of loss, learning and hope that just happen to be wrapped around something other worldly.
The lead actor, Ichihara, is a delight to watch on the big screen, he captivates from the very start and becomes the ideal eye and ears for the audience throughout the film. The tension that the film builds up throughout ends with brilliant fight off climax against the syndicate’s ultimate leader, Kaeru-kun. There is ultimately a very blurred line between good and evil in the film and that is what keeps things interesting. Everything is screaming with colour throughout the film and the fight sequences are beautifully choreographed and captured.
With the best use of a frog mascot costume on film ever, Yakuza Apocalypse will hopefully become quintessential Miike. It’s brash and proud, everything we’ve come to see from his films before and worth a gander.