"Yakuza Apocalypse is one among his more adult ventures with his trademark over-the-top violence, strange characters and a bizarre, often dark sense of humour"

With over 90 films to his name ranging from dark mystery thrillers, ultra violent crime dramas to family friendly musicals, Japanese director Takeshi Miike has become notorious as one of the most perplexing filmmakers working today, earning himself much scorn, acclaim and a sizeable cult following.

Yakuza Apocalypse is one among his more adult ventures with his trademark over-the-top violence, strange characters and a bizarre, often dark sense of humour. However, all these factors do not save the film from being a truly boring experience of wasted talent and potential.

The plot follows Kageyma, an up and coming member of the Yakuza, who’s fiercely loyal to his boss, the seemingly immortal Kamiura. When Kamiura is killed by rivals, it is revealed that he is in fact a Yakuza vampire and passes on his undead abilities to Kageyma urging him to seek revenge. With his new found powers, Kageyma soon embarks on a campaign of bloodsucking and violence to take revenge on his mentor’s killers, raising an army of fellow Yakuza vampires to aid him in his quest for vengeance.

With a plot as bizarre and silly sounding as the one described above, you would at least think the film would be entertaining. But the truth is far from it.

The vampire crime boss is killed for reasons only mentioned briefly, with no further discussion of the relationship with his killers, or why he holds our hero in such high standing to entrust his vampire abilities to him. I also couldn’t figure out the evil plans of the film’s villains, led by a man with green fingers, a turtle shell and a beak for a mouth. Did they want to destroy the world, did they want to control the world? They don’t say.

In short, I couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on for almost the entirety of the runtime.

The problems with the film spread to its inconsistent tone. The film can’t seem to make up its mind as to whether it’s a dark horror action thriller or a Power Rangers-esque family comedy. The violence is certainly gruesome with a hefty body count racked up within the first minute and the blood spraying after a mere 30 seconds of screen time.

The movie’s many fight scenes are, for the most part, well choreographed and executed, provided you can see what’s going on. The camera moves around so much at times during the fights that they border on unwatchable at times, with the best fights coming in the action packed finale, as the camera finally decides to remain somewhat steady. But by the time it has reached its final act I had almost given up on any hope it could redeem itself.

That’s when the Frogman makes his entrance, and he is easily the best part of this otherwise awful film. I mean it sincerely when I say the Frogman is the sole reason that this does not receive a one star review.

Dubbed ‘the world’s worst terrorist’ by his fellow villains; the Frogman dominates the opposition with his lighting fast martial arts abilities and his death stare which halts his opponents dead in their tracks. The Frogman is just such a wonderfully bizarre creation that I could not help but laugh at whenever he appears on screen to challenge our sharp-suited hero and beat the living daylights out of him. The Frogman can’t be killed either it seems, bullets just slow him down and he uses grenades thrown his way to propel himself into the air so he can plummet back to earth to kick even more ass.

Yakuza Apocalypse, if you can’t tell already from my review, is a truly terrible film. While its bizarre unhinged plot has the potential to be at least entertaining or funny, it comes across as tedious and boring to watch. The plot is near impossible to follow, the characters near impossible to become attached to or even understand their motivations, and the action scenes are only enjoyable when the camera actually keeps still and focuses on them.

The Frogman is the only reason that I can think of to recommend this film, he is just such an enjoyably weird character to behold and he truly is the one saving grace amidst this otherwise boring mess of a film.

Fans of Takeshi Miike may enjoy this film, but for newcomers to the cult Japanese director, I advise you to avoid it at all costs. For a much better Miike introduction, just watch his far superior thriller Audition instead.