Yakuza Apocalypse: Takashi Miike’s candy coloured cult mash-up

8 Jan

Japanese poster for Yakuza Apocalypse

Quentin Tarantino’s latest, The Hateful Eight, has been garnering five-star reviews everywhere from Empire to the Guardian and Telegraph. It’s playing in 70mm at the Odeon Leicester Square, which has got to be worth the extra ticket price, though sadly both Curzon and Picturehouse (including my local, the Ritzy) have got into a strop over this exclusive deal and are now refusing to screen it at all.

While waiting for my chance to see it, I caught up with another maverick, genre-obsessed director, and hoo boy! Takashi Miike is not – how can one put this delicately? – a director to everyone’s taste, but if you do like that sort of thing, Yakuza Apocalypse is a doozie. To give a précis of the film is to accord it a coherence that it doesn’t perhaps deserve, but let’s give it a go:

There’s this gang of yakuzas. Some of them are vampire yakuzas, for no explicable reason. Vampire hunters come. They are Japanese, yet speak only (heavily accented) English, for no explicable reason. They call in their secret weapon. Their secret weapon is a martial arts expert in a giant frog’s outfit, again for no explicable reason. There is blood and pus and decapitation, fights in which every punch sounds like an earthquake, numerous nods to spaghetti westerns, a climactic piss-take of bad Godzilla flicks, and the aforementioned bad-ass in a comedy frog costume who can defeat anyone in a fight yet has to be helped up and down stairs because he can’t see properly. It’s one of the most demented, insanely enjoyable, laugh-out-loud, candy coloured cult mash-ups I have ever seen.

The Telegraph gave it five stars, which is perversely generous. The Guardian gave it three, which makes it sound middle-of-the-road, when it is anything but. But really, like a hyperspace warp drive, Yakuza Apocalypse is beyond the star system altogether.

On the way out, I heard one cinema-goer ask another, “What did you think of the film?” I hung around for a few seconds, curious to hear the reply. But answer came there none. The guy just stood there, speechless, with this stunned look on his face.

So there you have it. Yakuza Apocalypse – more than words can say.


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