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Yakuza Apocalypse - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Gokudo Daisenso

Japan 2015

Genre:
Action, Comedy

Director:
Takashi Miike

Cast:
Hayato Ichihara
Lily Franky
Reiko Takashima
Kiyohiko Shibukawa
Yayan Ruhian
Riko Narumi
Sho Aoyagi
Denden
Mio Yuki


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Yakuza Apocalypse: The Great War of the Underworld

Yakuza Apocalypse - Film Screenshot 1

Story: Kamiura (Lily Franky) is a yakuza boss and responsible for the people of his town to not lack anything in life. In order to achieve this he every now and then has to take on some enemy gangs, but all in all things are looking good for him. No wonder, after all, the countless supposed deadly attempts at taking his life couldn't have any effect on him: He is a vampire! Kageyama (Hayato Ichihara) is his right hand and wants to become like him. But Zenba (Reiko Takashima) betrays Kamiura and so Kageyama has to watch his boss getting killed. However, Kageyama is bitten by him before he dies. Now, the blood of Kamiura runs through his veins and he has to try dealing with his sudden thirst for blood. But this doesn't really work out that well and so he causes a chain reaction which results in almost the whole town counting among his subordinates. And Kageyama is in strong need of them if he wants to take revenge on his boss' killer. That one doesn't just have a strong fighter (Yayan Ruhian) at his side, but also hired a terrorist even the yakuza respect. A bloody showdown seems to be inevitable...

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Review: What the hell was that just now? Or something along those lines will be the question popping up after having watched this action comedy. What kind of drugs did Takashi Miike take when shooting this film? Or let me rephrase that: What kind of drugs is the audience supposed to take in order to make sense of this picture? The director goes beyond any borders of sanity and reason and takes you on a rollercoaster ride at which end you don't know up from down. So is that to be considered a good or bad thing? I assume opinions will widely differ, but I certainly count among the people who see Miike's newest work as a cheap attempt to go wild and indulge himself in so much absurdity and abstruseness that some professional film critics might maybe even mistake this as a masterpiece.

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However, sometimes when something doesn't make any sense it's possible that it simply doesn't make any sense. It doesn't necessarily mean that you lack intellect. Those who are completely crazy about Miike's anarchistic world view certainly are on a completely different wavelength. If you simply want to have some fun time with the nonsense depicted here that's fine. I can somehow understand that and an evening in front of the tv with "Yakuza Apocalypse" and a good amount of alcohol in your blood might even turn this film into a riot. Apart from that the film, in my humble opinion, fails on several levels. This flick doesn't make any sense from start to finish and even though that might not be its intention some of the comedic scenes at least should have been written better. Oftentimes, the supposedly funny scenes simply lead to a certain kind of awkwardness.

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Absurd ideas that might make you laugh are to be found aplenty. Of course, there is the most dangerous terrorist on the planet that walks around in a frog costume and is a master in kung fu. Oh yeah, later on he turns into a Godzilla-like monster. Hey, I told you that nothing makes any sense here! Anyway, this might all sound quite funny, but very often Miike outdoes himself with his wacky ideas to such an extent that you are constantly having question marks popping up above your head. Takashi Miike has been in the business for a long time and his movie output is truely scary. No one would want to deny the fact that he knows his stuff, as his more commercial works like "Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai" or "13 Assassins" are without a doubt proof of. But even his more wacky films like "As the Gods Will" manage to convince. But every now and then he maneuvers himself into a dead end with his movies, see "Lesson of the Evil". But never before did he go so much astray as he did here - although I have to admit that I haven't watched all of his works yet...

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Ok, let's not look at the story and let's just say that Miike wanted to do his stuff without having to restrain himself. But as already stated, many of the scenes are so badly written that they are outright forced upon us and thus aren't funny at all. The last fist fight is a fine example for that. Several minutes a stupefying smacking-in-the-mouth drags on and on. It's really nothing more than that! On several occasions "Yakuza Apokalypse" shows that it knows how to do differently, presenting nicely choreographed fights, in which also Yayan Ruhian ("The Raid", "The Raid 2") is allowed to show his fantastic skills. And even Hayato Ichihara ("All About Lily Chou-chou") convinces in his fights. As well as the frog, of course... But sadly that is the only silver lining.

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The impression that this is simply a low-budget flick that had a high budget at its disposal - yes, when you haven't seen "Yakuza Apocalypse" this might sound like a contradiction - stays with you until the very end. The film never takes itself serious, no doubt about it, although it somehow gives this impression with its deadpan absurdity. But you can't warm up to the nutty characters and there is no plot here. Clichés are avoided, though, as is shown in the romantic relationship which is only hinted at, but that's not a surprise since Miike puts one scene you wouldn't expect to see after the next anyway. This isn't satisfying at all, even less so since the realization of this alleged comedy is simply too unrestrained and haphazard. At least, you can say that you have watched a truely original movie. If nothing else...

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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