October 9, 2014

Movie Review: Yakuza Weapon

It has been awhile since I watched one, but over the years, I have come to really enjoy Japanese splatter films. You know, moves like Machine Girl, Frankenstein Girl vs. Vampire Girl, Helldriver, all sorts of stuff like that. As it turns out, I had a related title about to expire in my Netflix queue. I know this is October and I should be watching horror movies, but this feels close enough, like the relationship between cult horror and exploitation. The movie in question is Yakuza Weapon, a wildly over the top science fiction (well, maybe not) and action, blended with the crime film. It stars Tak Sakaguchi of Versus fame (there is another movie you should check out).

The movIe centers on Shozo (Sakaguchi), a wildly crazed yakuza soldier, and son of the boss, fighting in the jungles of South America. The guy is insane from the get go, riding waves of explosions, barely attempting to dodge oncoming bullets, screaming all the time about his own greatness. It is an over the top introduction to an over the top character in an over the top sequence that gets you somewhat prepared, but not really, for what is to come.

Things begin to build when Shozo learns that his father has been betrayed and assassinated by his right hand man, Kurawaki (Shingo Tsurumi). Enraged, Shozo returns home, rounds up the few friends and associates he still has and sets out to avenge his father's death. Of course, you may think he has bitten off more than he can chew, based on the forces he faces and his distinct lack of weapons and manpower. That doesn't stop the highly confident and egotistical Shozo, who rushes headlong into the fight, believing he is right and that no one can stop or even kill him. The funny thing is that despite him being a Yakuza, a bad guy, the guy is rather likable in an insane fashion.

The fight with Kurawaki quickly goes in the way of the bad guy. It is all a matter of firepower and Shozo's sworn enemy has a gunship and a rocket launcher on his side. A couple rounds later, our hero is lying in a heap, missing an arm and a leg while his girlfriend stands over him wondering why he won't die?

It is at this point that things begin to get really weird. Just when you thought that this movie had turned into a bloody Warner Brothers cartoon, it goes further. Just watch it, you'll see.

A top secret government agency takes control of the barely alive Shozo, puts him through a grueling reconstructive surgery that replaces his missing limbs with a Vulcan cannon and a rocket launcher, respectively. This is all to make him the titular Yakuza Weapon. They send him back out against Kurawaki and his guard, which includes Shozo's former best friend, Tetsu.

I really don't want to describe anymore. It gets progressively more insane, violent, bloody, and flat out bizarre the closer we get to the finish. This is unlike anything you will see in American action cinema, and is a good example of the complaint I have that directors are scared or unwilling to take that extra step and make things weird. This movie does some really crazy thing, when you see the brother/sister team up, your head will spin.

Yakuza Weapon is a low budget film, to be certain, but it is not one with a lack of energy or imagination. There is one particularly great scene that is a one take fight bit, just a bit reminiscent of the Old Boy hammer fight, only not. It is an impressively staged and executed fight sequence. It leads into that brother/sister bit.

If you are looking for a little something different, off the beaten path, gloriously violent, and maniacally entertaining, this may be for you. If you are not used to this sort of thing, I can guarantee you have seen nothing like this before.

Co-directed and co-written (based on the manga by Ken Ishikawa) by Tak Sakaguchi (Mutant Girls Squad) and Yudai Yamaguchi (Meatball Machine), Yakuza Weapon is a potent mash of the insane and the crazy. Proceed with caution.


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