BFI London Film Festival: Yakuza Apocalypse

Yakuza Apocalypse
Directed by Takashi Miike

Starring Ichihara Hayato, Lily Franky and Takashima Reiko

by Joanna Orland

I’m never quite sure how to review a Takashi Miike film.  With a ridiculous amount of feature films under his belt (56???), the Japanese director has gained numerous award nominations and a huge cult following outside of his home country.  His latest film is a bizarre, nonsensical comedy horror film about a gang of Yakuza vampires who set off events that seem to be leading to the end of the world.

Yakuza Apocalypse is basically insane.  It starts off slowly with a strong implication that the Yakuza leader is a vampire, which is later confirmed as an English speaking cowboy priest vampire hunter kills him in battle.  Before fully passing on, the decapitated head of the leader is able to bite and turn his protégé, which leads to various other civilians being infected and turned into vampires.  The civilians are out of control and society is crumbling as it’s supposed to be the Yakuza who feed off of the blood of civilians in this overt metaphor. 

I’m fairly certain the plot is irrelevant to this film as what makes it so interesting are the random ideas and hilarious visuals that Miike has incorporated.  There is a lady who hears dripping in her head with water pouring out of her ears, a civilian garden that grows, and a goblin whose film costume is just a man in makeup with a beak in his mouth to represent his character’s beak.  While all of these characters, and the Yakuza vampires, are ridiculous and over the top, Miike saves his best for last with the introduction of the most dangerous terrorists in the world.

Yakuza Apocalypse prefers absurdity to coherence, and through its outrageously deranged ideas, it’s a surefire cult hit.


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