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Review: Yakuza Apocalypse – “A wild, crazy ride into madness”

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akashi Miike has made over 90 films so far. They range from the ridiculous to the sublime and his latest,Yakuza Apocalyse, is closer to the former. All of Miike’s films are worth a watch, some are stone cold classics, but even the lesser films have a particular moment that burns in to the brain.

Yakuza Apocalypse features gangsters, vampires, zombies, knitting and a bad guy dressed in a frog suit!

The film follows Kageyama (Hayato Ichihara), a gangster working for mob boss Kamiura (Lily Franky). Kageyama is cursed with skin so sensitive he can’t get a tattoo, while Kamiura seems indestructible and won’t hurt civilians. Things take a turn when Kyoken (The Raid’s Yayan Ruhian) turns up and ends up ripping off Kageyama’s head. However, turns out that Kageyama is a vampire and before he dies he manages to turn Kamiura.

This leads to a wild, crazy ride into madness. We see an army of vampire zombie types getting revenge on the people who picked on them, a weird kappa goblin, stuff coming out of peoples ears and fights. Lots and lots of fights.

As expected, the action on display is well choreographed and filmed. I do like a good fight, but at one point I was hoping the film would take a minute to calm down. That rarely happens. Instead we move from one set piece to the next. All well and good, but too much of a good thing can lead to action fatigue and I did find that beginning to settle in. However, that changed when Kyoken showed up.

You keep hearing mention of the big bad syndicate boss and when he turns up you wonder whether you suddenly turned over to a kids TV show. The reason being he is wearing a frog suit. Not an animatronic frog suit like a Ninja Turtles type thing. I am talking the kind of frog suit you would see being worn at a cheap and nasty carnival. Just a load of green material and big eyes.

You’ve not really lived until you have seen a man dressed in a frog suit beat the crap out of a load of people. That’s what you get in this film.

Ichihara is a great leading man. He can act, looks cool and can do all the excellent fighting moves needed for a film of this type. When the story sticks with him things are great. We see him do great things and that’s when the film works. It is when we lose focus of Ichihara’s Kageyama, that the film falls down. We get a mix of other good characters, but quite a few lousy ones and it seems that Miike has just been putting every crazy thing they could think of into the film. When you do that there are bound to be some things that just don’t work. Lots of the comedy moments just fall flat and suck the life out of the film, but not in the cool vampire way.

I wanted to love this film as it seemed to tick all the boxes for me. There are some great moments and some brilliant fights, but whenever we leave Kageyama the film begins to fall apart. As there is so much going on this is not a surprise. Just a shame. If they had cut about 20 minutes, it would have been a much tighter, cooler film. Mind you, It may have worked better if I had been watching it late at night with a group of friends and a few beers.

If you like Miike or kung fu action comedies then this is definitely worth checking out, even if you just want to see the guy in the frog suit kick ass!

3-out-of-5

Add another star if you have had a good night with friends, drinks have been drunk and you want something fun to watch at the end of the night,

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