Film Pulse Score

Release Date:   October 9, 2015 (Limited and VOD Platforms)
MPAA Rating:   R
Director:   Takashi Miike
Run Time:   125 Minutes

A new film from Miike means a new section of my life devoted to complete and utter bewilderment, although in the best sense possible. As always, the beginning stages of a Miike are met with both hands firmly grasped around the logistics and the intentions of the film at hand until the bizarre aspects of the narrative begin to wander in and out the narrative. This is when my grasp begins to falter, shakingly holding on for this time will be the time I continue to have a firm grasp of the proceedings.

At this precise moment – during my internal dialogue bursting with inspirational back-patting – the film inexplicably slides into (what I like to call) Full-On Miike. All cognitive functions running a gauntlet of the mystifying and the baffling; a sequence shifting from steadfast understanding to an unsteady footing conclusively ushered into a state of unadulterated surrender, hands flailing skyward with all reasonable thought quickly dissipating into thin air.

I’ve experienced this sequence of events numerous times and yet, I still settle into a new offering from Miike in the same way; inevitably experiencing the same feelings and enjoying all those feelings, as if for the first time. I could (and should) learn, but I’m not sure I can fully experience a Miike another way. Yakuza Apocalypse possesses everything I should come to expect from Takashi Miike, yet it still – once again – caught me completely off-guard.  

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Positing a correlation between Yakuza and Vampires, screenwriter Yoshitaka Yamaguchi and Miike present an intriguing world wherein Yakuza must maintain a balance between civil activities and those of the criminal variety, extending this idea into the lore of vampires with civilian blood being bountiful in nutrients while Yakuza blood remains a malnourishing option leading to certain death.

As you can imagine, those elements and the mechanics of this narrative appear fully comprehensible. And they are, for the majority of the film, until Miike slowly introduces the more peculiar elements into the storyline. Undeniably casual, these peculiar plot-points elicit a double-take of sorts as they appear to have wandered in from another film; whatever the case may be, their presence is welcomed.

Then, like a lightning bolt of pure imagination comes the jumping face punch of insanity, sauntering into the narrative like a long-lost friend (albeit dressed in a giant felt frog costume). Miike, like always, displays a proficiency of combining a laundry list of ideas and genres into one cohesive material with unconventional delights littered amongst an imaginative story defying expectations and categorization.