Yakuza Weapon (2011) – Review

3 Stars

Yakuza Weapon is the latest bizarre import from cult Japanese filmmakers Tak Sakaguchi and Yûdai Yamaguchi. If you’re not familiar with their work let me run down a list of past titles, Battlefield Baseball, Samurai Zombie, and Meatball Machine. Sakaguchi and Yamaguchi’s latest collaboration is an outlandish fantasy with odd bits of humor, raunchiness and vast amounts of violence that adds to its mad dash concoction.

The film follows a rage-addicted yakuza named Shozo Iwaki, who vows revenge on a former mafia brother after a mutiny results in the death of Iwaki’s father. Shozo returns to Japan to kill Kurawaki, a turncoat and drug dealer responsible for the death of the esteemed yakuza leader. The two engage in an epic battle located in a corporate office building, during the struggle Shozo loses his arm and leg. Only to be pieced back together, albeit with a machine gun and rocket launcher in place of the missing limbs, by the Japanese government in an effort to stop the Yakuza wars.

A plot description won’t do Yakuza Weapon any justice. It is the type of film that needs to be seen to fully be appreciated. The hyperactive storytelling, theatrical acting styles and kinetic action makes it almost impossible to tear your eyes away from the screen, if only to see what the filmmakers will present us with next. It plays like one of those import Manga cartoon series where the rules of gravity and physics are easily rewritten.

There is an undeniable amount of energy and visual technique in Yakuza Weapon. Even though the story is fantasy, the amount of work that went into the production is evident. The film looks great, sometimes the frames look as if they were adapted straight from the pages of a comic book panel and the over the top violence is almost comical. Perhaps the film runs a bit long, it’s almost as if the filmmakers couldn’t reign in their overactive imaginations. Yet in an age in which most movies barely have enough plot to satisfy a feature running-time, Yakuza Weapon has enough story to fill a trilogy.

Director: Tak Sakaguchi, Yûdai Yamaguchi
Stars: Tak Sakaguchi, Jun Murakami, Mei Kurokawa

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