• 極道大戦争 / Yakuza Apocalypse (2015) - Crazy in a positive way - 8/10 (08/03/16)

    極道大戦争 / Yakuza Apocalypse (2015)

    "Yakuza Apocalypse" is one of last year's most flamboyant movies. It shouldn't come as a surprise that it's the most recent movie of famous Japanese director Takashi Miike, a diversified workaholic who shoots numerous movies each year and who has gained critical acclaim with psychological horror movies such as "Audition" (1999), gangster movies like "Family" (2001), experimental flicks like "Gozu" (2003), historically inspired action movies like "Thirteen Assassins" (2010), courtroom dramas like "Ace Attorney" (2012) and brutal revenge flicks like "Shield of Straw" (2013). Obviously, there is a lot of hit and miss in this director's extensive filmography but I have adored most of his movies. No matter what genre Takshi Miike touches, his movies are often direct, intense and surprising and he has a very distinctive style that some people love and others despise. There are only few people who would describe Takashi Miike as an average director and his movies mostly get very positive ratings or extremely negative critics which is the reason why most of his movies still have balanced averages. ''Yakuza Apocalypse'' is definitely a controversial movie. Some people might get lost while watching this film while others will adore this movie's eclectic style.

    It's not easy to describe this unpredictable movie. It's basically a mixture of a gangster movie with a supernatural horror film and an absurd fantasy parody. "Yakuza Apocalypse" works a lot with contrasts. It features a rape scene and a brutal assassination on one side but humorously exaggerated special effects and slapstick fight choreographies on the other. There are profound dialogues but there is also a lot of situation comedy. The mood of the film can switch from brutal to light-hearted, from emotional to superficial and from serious to ridiculous in a few minutes. It's remarkable that the director still doesn't lose the film's guide line and manages not only to tell an intriguing story but also to include some smartly hidden social criticism here and there by ridiculing conservative gangster codes.

    "Yakuza Apocalypse" tells the story of a disrespected young Yakuza who wants to avenge the death of his mentor who was assassinated by the mob of an international gangster syndicate. What makes this movie outstanding are the eclectic characters in this potpourri of genres. You will encounter a weird woman whose head is filled with a noisy liquid, a smart Asian gangster who looks and talks like William Shakespeare, an Indonesian martial arts expert, a hyperactive kappa goblin and a giant frog that wants to destroy the world. Expect the unexpected and you will get some very original entertainment. 

    In the end, even by Takashi Miike' standards, if he has any, this is one of his weirdest movies along with "Gozu" which is one of my favourite films of all times. This movie here is a little bit less atmospheric and the acting is only of an average quality. Still, this film offers multiple fireworks of creativity and has the potential to become a true cult movie in the future in the key of odd, recent North American films like "The Interview" and "Tusk". This flick has so many incredible genre changes, hilarious details and weird characters that it can be watched a dozen times without getting boring because there will always be something new to rediscover. "Yakuza Apocalypse" offers many flamboyant scenes that should lead to controversial debates with your friends but you can also switch your brain off and enjoy this incredible fun ride on your own. If you're expecting a serious mainstream movie though, you will be disappointed and get the exact opposite. Those who aren't familiar with Takashi Miike's works should maybe try out "Gozu" and other movies before approaching this pleasant oddball. 

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