Film: Yakuza Weapon
UK Release date: 7th May 2012
Director: Tak Sakaguchi & Yudai Yamaguchi
Starring: Dennis Gun, Cay Izumi, Shinji Kasahara, Mei Kurokawa, Akaji Maro
Running time: 106 mins
Reviewer: Adam Wing
Teaming up with cult actor/director Tak Sakaguchi (Versus) for another deliriously demented offering, it would seem that Sushi Typhoon is back in business. Co-directed by Yudai Yamaguchi, and featuring action direction by Yuji Shimomura (Death Trance, Versus, Shinobi), with special makeup effects provided by Sushi Typhoon regular Yoshihiro Nishimura (Tokyo Gore Police, Helldriver), Yakuza Weapon is based on an adult comic created by Ken Ishikawa, who also had a hand in Cutie Honey. I think it’s safe to assume that we’re not entering period drama territory here.
It’s the usual drill. High-octane action, human weaponry, CGI bloodlust and yakuza gangster fodder, brought to you in glorious high definition - I mean really, what’s not to like? You either love this kind of thing or you don’t, and I doubt very much Yakuza Weapon will do enough to change your opinion either way. The yakuza underworld is ruled by chivalry and loyalty (you’ll hear that a few times in this one), otherwise known as ‘Jingi’. If a yakuza violates Jingi there is hell to pay, because the yakuza live and die by their principles.
Ex-yakuza Shozo Iwaki (Tak Sakaguchi) is working as a bullet-dodging mercenary in South America when he learns of the death of his gang boss father, Kenzo (Akaji Maro). On his return, Shozo discovers that Kurawaki (Shingo Tsurumi) has double-crossed and assassinated Kenzo, leaving Shozo in charge of the Iwaki Family. In a fight to the (near) death, Shozo and Kurawaki are badly injured, with Shozo losing both an arm and a leg. This wont be much of a surprise to Sushi Typhoon regulars, but Shozo wakes up with a cannon attached to his arm socket and a rocket launcher where his left leg used to be. What’s more, it hurts like hell when he fires them.
Soon enough, Shozo is looking for revenge on Kurawaki, but Kurawaki has made a few ‘enhancements’ of his own. He also has the hots for Shozo’s former ‘piece’, and Nayoko (Mei Kurokawa) spends most of the film in restraints - it really is a no lose situation for the viewer on this one. Shozo’s past comes back to haunt him when former best friend Tetsu (Jun Murakami) is ‘recruited’ to hunt him down. I wont give too much away (it’s probably best if you discover it for yourself), but let’s just say Tetsu knows a thing or two about arresting armoury. Maybe now’s a good time to mention the killer nurses too? Trust me on this one; every base is covered in Yakuza Weapon - twice over. Except maybe subtlety, they never quite got a handle on that one.
As much as I love the work of Tak Sakaguchi, I do wish he’d tone his performance down a bit at times. He’s not the only one at fault - most of the characters are as OTT as the action sequences in Yakuza Weapon - but there are times where you’ll wish they’d rein it in a little. Repetitive action sequences frequent the first act, and the pace sags ever so slightly as a result, but it’s not long before Sakaguchi finds his feet and Yakuza Weapon gains ground. For the most part, the action sequences are well choreographed and beautifully shot. One scene in particular – where Shozo takes on a horde of hoodies in an abandoned building – is five whole minutes of popcorn pleasure and exuberance. Sushi Typhoon movies are known (and loved in parts) for their use of cheap but inventive CGI effects, with Yakuza Weapon however, the effects are impressive throughout.
What Sushi Typhoon movies aren’t big on is plotting, but there’s plenty going on in this one, and Team Sakaguchi benefits greatly from a darkened storyline that digs that little deeper. Having said that, once we hit the home straight, Yakuza Weapon frees itself from its shackles and runs riot all over the TV screen. The final act is unbelievably satisfying; with flying body parts and CGI blood doing battle with inventive direction and ingenious plot twists. Dripping with invention, insanity and distaste, Yakuza Weapon doesn’t even pause for breath. Killer nurses with claws and apocalyptic appendages do battle for your affection, with Sakaguchi taking the term ‘women are weapons of war’ a little too literally - not that I’m complaining in the slightest.
Tak Sakaguchi thrills and frustrates at times, but he certainly knows his way around a camera lens, and Yakuza Weapon is all the more enjoyable for it. Taking a dump on the cinematic excess of Tokyo Gore Police but falling short of majestic monster-mash Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl, Yakuza Weapon is a return to form for all things Sushi. Now can somebody please release Mutant Girl Squad in the UK?