Saturday, 21 April 2012


Film: Yakuza Hunters - The Revenge Duel In Hell
UK Release date: 21st May 2012
UK Distributor: Cine Du Monde
Certificate: 18
Director: Kazushi Nakadaira
Starring: Asami, Jiro Sato, Misato Tate, Rumi Hiiragi, Yuki Matsumura
Running time: 73 mins
Genre: Action
Country: Japan
Subtitles: English
Reviewer: Adam Wing

The last time we saw Asami she was taking revenge on the gang members who had left her for dead after running riot in her town. She teamed up with a quartet of gun toting babes. locked, loaded and ready for action. Dressed in next to nothing (go figure), Asami and her ‘Yakuza Hunters’ took to the streets in search of simple-minded madmen and the taste of bloody retribution. The fight sequences (when they came) were deliciously dirty, but Yakuza Hunters dragged its (high) heels from time to time, boosting the running time with layers of misjudged sentiment. With a retro soundtrack and gore by the bucket load, the first chapter kicked enough Yakuza ass to make the prospect of part 2 a welcome one, but if you’re hoping to see Asami half naked again, you’ll have to file this second helping away under ‘disappointment’.

Other than Asami spending the entire movie in clothing, Yakuza Hunters 2 is pretty much business as usual. Three years have past since Asami left town, but it isn’t long before she stumbles across her down beaten master Inokuma, the man who first taught her how to fight. The Shoryu Yakuza - who are threatening everybody with eviction so that they can build a new casino - is now running the town. In order to achieve their goal, they hire cold-blooded killer Akira (Hitomi Miwa) to kill anyone who gets in their way. They should maybe have mentioned that to Asami though, because it’s pretty obvious that she didn’t get the memo. Relationships are worsened when Akira brutally murders those closest to Asami, and she has no choice but to take up arms again (not to mention her hat) in a babe on babe battle to the death – fully clothed that is. I mentioned that part already, didn’t I?

The bloodthirsty opening cuts deeper than you might expect (literally not figuratively), but it’s not long before Yakuza Hunters 2 falls into the same trap as its predecessor. Inokuma finds Asami a place to stay with big-sis (Yumi Yoshiyuki), and the rest of the first act takes us on the dullest of ‘emotional’ drives. Asami’s relationship with big-sis does have important repercussions later on, but Shinozaki handles their growing friendship with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. It’s not just their scenes that suffer; several sequences are borderline coma inducing, with Shinozaki mistaking high emotion for next to no motion. The camera stays fixed in one position a lot of the time, inducing fidgets and adding next to no zip to the humourless exposition. Worse still, some characters serve no purpose at all, with bartender Yuzi’s (Naoki Kawano) infatuation with Asami adding next to no weight to the drawn out opening.

The first film was gorier and more action-packed (which is really saying something), and for much of part 2 even Asami seems to have lost her edge. The kick-ass revenge seeker we all fell in love with has taken a step back, and it’s not until Akira arrives in town that she rediscovers a sense of purpose (and fun). Asami’s relationship with big-sis doesn’t always convince, and it’s a problem that haunts the movie until its conclusion, but it does provide our heroine with enough ammunition to pick up her sword once again. There are still moments of gut-punching splendour to savour, but Yakuza Hunters 2 isn’t as enthusiastic as it ought to be. Having said that, Asami is still hot, Hitomi Miwa brings fiery menace to the role of number one contract killer, and Yakuza Hunters 2 hits the right notes with its funky soundtrack. Nothing here touches the extended riverbank fight sequence of the original, but an energetic early encounter with Akira is tightly choreographed, and Asami gets the chance to go ‘all Bruce Lee’ on her well-formed ass, which was always going to be a highlight for me.

Not nearly as twisted as you might expect, Yakuza Hunters 2 suffers the same fate as the first chapter. Despite random bursts of glorified violence there seems to be less focus on frivolous fun, action excess and token nudity. Asami and Hitomi Miwa make a good fist of it - there’s still a great movie if you cut the two films down to size - but for all its promise, Yakuza Hunters 2 feels more like a retread than an actual improvement. 

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