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Simon Read [Film Festival 11.26.11] review scifi action

Year: 2011
Directors: Tak Sakaguchi & Yûdai Yamaguchi
Writers: Tak Sakaguchi & Yûdai Yamaguchi
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: projectcyclops
Rating: 8 out of 10

Bloody, brilliantly choreographed and utterly insane in a way only Asian cinema seems to get away with; for me this one’s up there with Versus, Tokyo Gore Police and Wild Zero, with a crazy sense of self awareness at how lunatic events play out, and just with buckets (or vats?) of gore, it’s a film drenched with the stuff. It’s very funny too.

Shozo Iwaki is the ultimate Yakuza, and with his two buddies he’s been fighting in the jungle ‘Rambo’ style for four years until his father’s death brings him parachuting back to Tokyo, where the family business has been taken over by ruthless anti-Yakuza yuppie Kurawaki and his simpering younger brother Tatsuyuki. This will not stand, and Shozo basically causes a major shit storm in order to secure revenge. He’s a powerful warrior but Kurawaki has been flooding the streets with a new drug (called Hyper Drug…) which causes users to turn into high-kicking zombie slaves who follow his orders and are basically canon fodder and punching bags for Shozo to plow through. You get the idea. After a freak disaster we get some nimble references to Robocop and Shozo returns with a few upgrades, and this is when things get truly out of control and the fate of mankind rests on an arm mounted machine gun and a nuclear bomb attached to somebody’s genitals… again, you get the idea.

I’m not a massive fan of Asian cini-gore films and only dip my toe in the water every so often, but I’m really glad I did with Yakuza Weapon as it’s thoroughly entertaining and is not above breaking the fourth wall to secure a few laughs (“They really make me work hard you know!”) and even contains a very impressive ten minute uninterrupted take in which Shozo storms a skyscraper and clears it out floor-by-floor. I read the actor broke his neck while filming, ouch. There are three story-lines running throughout the narrative: revenge, romance and another unexpected story about Shozo’s former blood brother, who’s returned from the dead to claim his own prize. These all work well in tandem although the film doesn’t really focus on any one plot point long enough for it to really matter; it’s all balls to wall craziness pretty much from start to finish, in the best possible way.

Saving the weaker element for last, the ending of the film is something of a let-down, but then how do you end a film like Yakuza Weapon? It felt very much like the writers had realized that they’d reached the ninety minute mark and basically had a quick brainstorm as to how to end things quick and simple, and it doesn’t really work. The film could have earned a 9/10 if it had thought of something inventive and in tune with the rest of the craziness, but it was simply too straightforward and lazy, and it kind of ends things on a lowly, “Huh?” Still it’s a fine film with so much laugher and guts that I have to admit, I was seriously impressed with the overall body of the film. Give yourself a treat and find a screening of Yakuza Weapon. Shozo’s catchphrase is, “WILLPOWER!” I’ve begun to apply it to my own life, and it’s been a real help, Yakuza style.

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