Yakuza Apocalypse (2015)

Director: Takashi Miike

The current challenges at the ICM forum are action films and Japanese cinema, plus there’s an ongoing challenge for films from this decade. This film handily ticks all three of the boxes, which was, to be honest, possibly the main reason I watched this… I’ve not been enamoured of Miike before, but, admittedly, I’ve only seen three of his films (plus his segment of Three Extremes) and that’s not quite enough to form a serious opinion on someone with a hundred directorial credits on IMDB, but I also know two of those films I disliked (Audition and Ichi the Killer—can’t remember what I thought of Katakuris, which is the third full Miike I’ve seen) are among his best regarded, so… Anyway, I don’t think this really endeared me to him any further. It’s a genre mashup of the sort he evidently likes, being essentially a yakuza movie with vampires. The top yakuza in this particular town just so happens to be undead, yes. Unfortunately he’s not indestructible, as we find when some never fully identified other organisation sends specially armed assassins to wipe him out. But! He manages to pass on his powers to his lieutenant, who doesn’t really know how to use them and inadvertently creates a plague of other yakuza vampires. And that’s about as much of it as makes sense; around that point Miike seems to have decided coherence be damned, cos I’m buggered if I can work out exactly who’s on what side and why anything in particular is happening… By the time the main villain—a martial arts master in a giant frog costume—is introduced, there’s obviously no going back, until it culminates in an ending that could most charitably be called not really an ending. The whole thing is undeniably looney, but equally the madness almost never feels anything but contrived and forced, and the film is so enervatingly long that it becomes kind of insufferable long before said non-ending. So yeah, another not-exactly-a-hit for me with Miike. At some point I suppose I may find something in that filmography I like, but I’m not hurrying to find out…

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