According to Wikipedia, Yakuza are members of transnational organized crime syndicates originating in Japan. Notorious for their strict codes of conduct and organized nature, they have a heirarchy of bosses, advisors, and lackeys. They also have a number of rituals– stuff like cutting off fingers and getting full-body tattoos. Mmmm. In Yakuza Apocalypse, lieutenant Akira Kageyama (Hayato Ichihara) is turned into a vampire when his beheaded boss, Genyō Kamiura (Lily Franky), bites him just before he dies, passing on his “powers” presumably so Kageyama can avenge his death. For poor Kageyama, however, being a vampire sorely tests Kamiura’s mantra of “no harm to civilians” and upsets the status quo both in the city where the gang operates and within the syndicate.
I love a dumb movie as long as it’s fun, and a little bizarre goes a long way. Yakuza Apocalypse certainly is both, but despite a strong enough start it is fun only to a point. Too bad. I love the melding of genres: mafia, kung fu, gore, action, end of the world shit. It struck me that I witnessed something come full circle: Yakuza Apocalypse so obviously was influenced by Quentin Tarantino, who in turn so obviously was influenced by martial arts films. Plus, making the deadly monster everyone fears a guy in a fuzzy muppet-like frog suit is a small stroke of genius. However, the plot is choppy, confusing, and hard to follow. I’m not sure what the deal is with “The Captain” or Masuda, to name just two “what the fucks.” The joke gets old, fast: the film goes on about 45 minutes too long and repeats the same tedious, drawn out battles, chases, and other nonsense. The audience loved it, but I got lost and bored; at just about two hours, I thought it would never end.
(Gene Siskel Film Center) D+