Takashi Miike’s new film Yakuza Apocalypse, about a vampire infection that takes over a Yakuza-controlled Japanese village, is a complete mishmash of genres. A suicidal child adds drama, a Yakuza ringleader adds violence, the antagonists add comedy and the vampires add horror to this unhinged film. It sounds chaotic yet thrilling for a reason. Takashi directs many of these genres with a strong ferocity, as if he is already thinking of his next feature-length or trying to cram as many of his imaginative characters into the film as possible.
The direction is certainly a strength here and the shaky camerawork is a positive contribution to the action set-pieces, rather than the restrictive element found in many American directed action movies. Alongside the brutal sound effects of windows smashing, faces being punched and kicked, and loud gunshots that fill the cinema, the film draws the audience into its violent and unique world. The actors all clearly embrace their physical roles, as they are thrown around and continuously beaten up, showcasing Takashi Miike signature violent edge.
However, the many setbacks outweigh these positives and with all these genre influences comes the problem of balance and coherence. Whilst the film begins comically, the first act is almost completely dramatic, creating jarring contrasts between these moments and the comical or action-filled sections that follow it. The transitions from one fight to the next begin to feel tiresome towards the end. Furthermore, there is no investment or desire for the audience to learn more about the characters, as the backstory and vampire twists are already revealed.
The film tries to distract from this through outrageous comic experiments like hilarious costumes and bizarre acting. While some of these do hit their mark, towards the end the audience is bombarded with them and many of the ideas miss, leaving the film feeling ultimately empty.
Yakuza Apocalypse does not have a UK release date yet.