directed by Takashi Miike
by Walter Chaw Takashi Miike makes one, sometimes two, sometimes three movies a year, which is not so remarkable as the fact that they're often exceptional. He's as fecund as a Fassbender and hasn't shown signs of the same catastrophic burnout. Even his middling projects have moments in them to recommend--no less so his latest, Yakuza Apocalypse, a return to the Yakuza genre that gave him mainstream credibility (such as it was) and the supernatural horror genre that gave him cult immortality. This one isn't about anything that I could ken, really, but it is technically proficient (as you'd expect), and where Miike generally directs his energies towards the perversity of his escalating violence, in this one he just funnels it all into perversity. It plays, essentially, like a live-action version of his stop-motion The Happiness of the Katakuris. This universe is elastic. He creates a complete cosmology for his Yakuza vampires and the power vacuum created when the beloved boss is murdered by a Django-coffin-clad vampire hunter, then in act three he introduces a chief baddie who spends the first part of the last battle in a giant, felt frog-mascot costume. What Miike's best at is the uncomfortable situation. He presents a roundelay of knitting prisoners, tested by foot-stomps, looking for deliverance. There's an unpleasant rape subplot that we realize by the middle has already been paid off in the picture's opening moments. There's a standard heroic redemption thread that fizzles because we don't much understand the stakes. But what works--the sense of displacement and unease, the sheer audacity of its bloated excess, the fluency of its visual sense of humour--works extremely well. It's a good place holder until Miike produces a sequel to 13 Assassins or Sukiyaki Western Django on the one side or Audition on the other.
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