I like a crazy Japanese movie as much as the next man. In fact, I’ve seen and enjoyed more than most and like to think that I’m more than just a part-time dabbler in the prolific output from that great land. However, I am still also very much a novice – I find it hard to remember the key names from the movies I love, I don’t always recognise actors that I know from past great performances and I sometimes struggle to go along with the over the top acting style so prevalent in many of the movies. There are also movies that sometimes come along that remind me, in terms of my moviewatching habits, I am still very much a stranger in a strange land. Yakuza Weapon is a movie like that. It’s full of that particular Japanese sense of humour that I just don’t find funny. At all.
It’s all about a slightly mad ex-yakuza (Shozo, played by Tak Sakaguchi) who returns home after the death of his father to find that another slightly mad bloke (Kurawaki, played by Shingo Tsurumi) wants to have power over every crime family in Japan, and perhaps even beyond. There are some crazy fight scenes and then things get even more slightly mad as Shozo is wounded so badly while chasing down Kurawaki that he has to be taken to a hospital facility . . . . . . . . where he then wakes up with a gatling gun fitted into his right arm and a rocket launcher in his left leg.
I guess I was hoping that this movie would be as brilliantly bonkers as the truly unforgettable Tokyo Gore Police but that wasn’t the case.
In fact, considering the wild premise, this quickly becomes a bit of a bore. Okay, I may be stretching things to say that but it certainly piles on so much insane action that it becomes a bit numbing. The first 15 minutes or so cover every over the top gag and stylistic trick that we then see used repeatedly for the next 90 minutes or so.
Tak Sakaguchi and Shingo Tsurumi do okay in their roles, really laying on the constant quirkiness and over the top dramatics, but the better performances come from Mei Kurokawa as a girl who stands by Shozo and Jun Murukami as a major enemy to be fought.
Sakaguchi deserves praise for his multi-tasking here (as lead actor, co-writer and co-director) and he’s helped by Yudai Yamaguchi but the two just seem so preoccupied with having their own fun in every sequence that the film never becomes as enjoyable for the viewers as it was for those working on the thing. I knew that something was amiss when I watched a man firing missiles from the orifices of a naked woman and wondered just how many times this particular moment was going to be repeated. People who know me will know just how that one moment sums up the movie.
Yakuza Weapon IS fun and has plenty of the creativity that you’d expect from the people involved. It’s just, sadly, not as much fun as they think it is and, subsequently, wears out its welcome a good 15-20 minutes before the end credits roll.
Yakuza Weapon is released on DVD and Blu-ray on 7th May here in the UK. Extra features include deleted and extended scenes, a 45 minute “making of..” piece, part one of a short film entitled “Toki’s Wedding” (part two is included with the release of Deadball), a number of featurettes and discussions with those involved, the trailer and the isolated music track. Altogether, not a bad selection.
DIRECTOR: YUDAI YAMAGUCHI, TAK SAKAGUCHI
WRITER: YUDAI YAMAGUCHI, TAK SAKAGUCHI (BASED ON THE MANGA BY KEN ISHIKAWA)
STARS: TAK SAKAGUCHI, SHINGO TSURUMI, MEI KUROKAWA, JUN MURUKAMI
RUNTIME: 106 MINS APPROX