If you’re familiar with Takashi Miike, then chances you’d know what to expect from Yakuza Apocalypse. Miike is known for several things in his films. Graphic imagery, absurdism, extreme violence, these are just some of aspects to his films that he’s become famous, or in some cases infamous, for over the years. Yakuza Apocalypse at face value has all these traits. Literally, from the moment the film starts you’re treated to a bloodbath and there really isn’t more than a few minutes between the action for serious plot development. That is, if you can call it serious. It’s mindless action at it’s purest form, playing off of the tropes that we expect from not only Miike’s works, but the genres he’s exploiting in this piece. Characters are over the top and stereotypical, everyone’s a joke in themselves which leads to making this more parody than anything else. Yet despite that all this film does well, there are problems with it.
Part of the problem lies in the plot of Yakuza Apocalypse. The film isn’t meant to be taken seriously, however the storyline doesn’t hold up even when completely detached from reality. Essentially the premise of Yakuza Apocalypse is our main character, Akira Kageyama, gets bitten by his yakuza boss, who is actually a yakuza vampire, and is dragged into a larger conspiracy that’s never fully explained. Eventually he turns the entire town into yakuza and it all goes down hill in a wonderful cavalcade of violence and action.
There’s a monster that will bring about the end of the world (who’s possibly the best part of the whole film), a bus that has mini-guns in the front bumper, and a knitting class in the basement of a restaurant. One thing that the film does beautifully is its absurdity. You know going into the movie that nothing is serious, even the attempts to be serious with half-hearted attempts at giving the characters depth. But while the ridiculousness of everything is incredibly fun to watch, you begin to feel worn down by the amount of stuff that’s going on.
That in heart lies the biggest issue with the film, over-saturation. If the film were about half an hour shorter it might not suffer from this issue, but from beginning to end you feel just a little tired of the same antics. While most of it’s fun, you can’t help but feel like a portion of this could have been left on the cutting room floor.
That’s not to say I didn’t like the film. It is funny, very well shot, and the fight scenes are great. I just wish that it was a shorter film so I didn’t feel the creeping sense of tedium skew what I was watching. Never the less Miike definitely doesn’t disappoint in his latest endeavour, in his own way showing that perhaps it doesn’t take more some yelling to say be Yakuza.