Yazuka Weapon on Blu-ray

“Yakuza Weapon” is one of those extravagant Japanese movies that feature larger than life characters, masses of over-the-top violence and a healthy dose of slapstick humour. It is based on a manga strip by Ken Ishikawa, and comes from the team that brought us the cult zombie flick “Versus”. Tak Sakaguchi stars as Shozo, the son of a murdered Yakuza boss who returns home to wreak vengeance against his father’s killers.

Shozo and his two sidekicks’ mission is to overthrow Kurawaki (Shingo Tsurumi), the self-proclaimed new underworld boss bent on taking over the whole of Japan. To succeed they must face off against countless foot soldiers and deadly henchmen before entering Kurawaki’s monolithic lair. Thrown into the mix is Shozo’s feisty ex-girlfriend Nayoko (Mei Kurokawa), who also happens to be the object of Kurawaki’s unreciprocated desires.

Yazuka Weapon out now on Blu-ray and DVDCo-directed by Sakaguchi and Yûdai Yamaguchi (“Deadball”, “Battlefield Baseball”), the film is unequivocally not for people with conservative, high-brow or delicate tastes. It is however a movie that fans of Tarantino’s output and of countless excessive films from the Orient will find much to adore. Its strong points are general air of endearing silliness, some terrific action scenes and a central character who refuses to die no matter what hits him (including a boat and a volley of missiles).

Shozo is key to the whole enterprise; Sakaguchi’s portrayal brings to mind a bizarre splicing of Johnny Depp and Monkey (as the eponymous character from the late 1970s’ TV series). He struts around with a cavalier aura of total imperviousness to anything, be it mental or physical, shrugging off bullets and moral decisions with barely a flicker.

When Shozo does eventually get critically injured, he is repaired The Six Million Dollar Man-style by a secret government agency that also wishes to bring Kurawaki down. They enhance him with cybernetic implants that include a devastating gatling gun that emerges from his arm and a lower leg that drops down at the knee to reveal a grenade launcher (something the Autons from Doctor Who ought to appropriate next time around!). These absurd body-munitions do not come without a price as they tend to get rather hot during protracted use, and cause Shozo plenty of discomfort that is mined for comedy value.

Shozo’s weaponry is not the only zany invention in this movie. One of his opponents is a fighter who uses a naked, dead woman’s corpse inset with a variety of guns (staggeringly, in every conceivable orifice) as both a shield and an arsenal, spinning the toughened body around him like an Olympic gymnast to deflect incoming bullets. Kurawki also has a few tricks up his sleeve…

The stand-out moment of the film is a locker-room fight sequence shot in a single take. Shozo takes on about 40 hoody-wearing goons who have been zombified with a powerful narcotic. His movements are like a Michael Jackson dance routine as he nimbly leaps, punches and kicks his way round the set, deploying his Vulcan cannon and knee launcher at pivotal moments for best effect. It really is a jaw-dropping piece of choreography if you are a fan of OTT action movies.

The film’s weak points are some rather variable special effects, some borderline judgement calls on where to draw the line when the action slides too far into lewdness, and the pacing drops off a bit near the end which causes the movie to deflate a little. In general, though, I would definitely recommend this as a wonderfully silly piece of after-the-pub entertainment, especially on Blu-ray where the picture is bold, bright and colourful, though a hazy bloom effect used throughout takes a bit of getting used to.

This release includes a decent clutch of special features, including:

  • Deleted and extended scenes
  • Making of
  • Takuzo Weapon (short film)
  • Toki’s Wedding Part One
  • The Tower of Kurawaki
  • Opening day stage greeting
  • Dream Jumbo talk show clip
  • Trailer
  • Option to play the movie with an isolated music track

This content represents a fair mix of behind-the-scenes and alternative items. The making-of documentary is around 45 minutes, and is worth watching for an inside scoop on the impressive single-take fight sequence. ‘Takuzo Weapon’ sees one of Shozo’s sidekicks wishing he had similar cybernetic weaponry to his boss’, with disastrous (and quite funny) results. ‘The Tower of Kurawaki’ is a similarly daft extra featuring brief introductory clips of 36 made-up fighters who supposedly guard Kurawaki’s imposing abode. If you have ever played a beat-em-up video game, imagine the character selection screen but done using live action and ridiculous outfits.

 “Yakuza Weapon" (2011) is out now on DVD and Blu-ray, courtesy of Bounty Films. The main feature has a running time of 106 minutes approx, carries an ‘18’ certificate and retails for £17.99 on DVD and £19.99 on Blu-ray, or less from www.culttvstore.com

 

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