YAKUZA APOCALYPSE: THE GREAT WAR OF THE UNDERWORLD
Yakuza Apocalypse is another of these wacky experiments. It feels like Miikes version of John Landiss Mafia vampire film Innocent Blood (1992), albeit having been rewritten as a Yakuza film. Of course, being Takashi Miike it is anything but a straightforward film. The film opens on a typically Miike-esque bloodbath. During this, we are introduced to the genial and much loved Yakuza head Lily Frankie. However, as the film progresses, Miikes increasingly surreal sense of humour kicks in like the scenes where we come across men chained up in a basement and made to sit at tables and knit where their feet are extended beneath the tables and the sharp heels of clogs driven into them and tolerating this becomes a test of endurance. Later the scenes in the basement are lorded over by a bizarre figure with a birds beak for a mouth and wearing a shirt that seems to be a partial turtle shell. Lily Frankie is then assassinated by a cowboy figure dressed in black who carries a small coffin on his back and speaks all of his dialogue in English.
Even when Yakuza Apocalypse slips into being a vampire film, it is anything but conventional once transformed, Hayato Ichihara finds his hands have become so hot that he can crack and fry an egg on them; that whenever he bites into a victim, the kanji character for suck appears on their forehead; while he also develops a slithering tongue. At another point, Reiko Takashima, who becomes the default leader of the Mafia, turns her head on its side and has liquid pour out of her ear. Why, we have no idea? The frequent sense you get in the film is that Miike made half of what is happening up on the spot.
Perhaps the funniest and most deadpan scenes in the film come where Kamiuras associates are trying to fill the gap of his absence only to find that every other profession in the city from nurses to public service workers and the gambling dens have formed their own yakuza and turned against them. Miike seems to be wanting to make a metaphor here alikening yakuza preying on victims to vampires preying on blood, although you feel that the film ends up stretching its analogies far too broadly.
The most demented aspects of the film are reserved for The Frog. This is built up as the most fearsome terrorist of all. When it finally appears, the results are hysterical laughter as the figure is none other than a person in a giant frog-headed furry suit. Of course, Miike immediately throws this on its head by having characters laughing at its appearance only for it to turn and demolish two different groups with a furious series of barehand martial arts blows, followed by it beating the entire mens knitting circle to death. The climactic scene involves The Frog stripping off the furry suit to reveal a man with a smaller frogs head and frog hands inside who engages Hayato Ichihara in a to-the-death battle in the streets. The last scene of the film has a very obvious volcano set rumbling and a giant-sized furry frog-suit creature emerging to trample on the very obvious model houses below in what would appear to be another of Miikes WTF End of the World endings. Quite what it was all about, I can honestly say I have no idea.
Takashi Miikes other genre films are: Full Metal Yakuza (1997), a yakuza/cyborg film; the teen film Andromedia (1998) about a schoolgirl resurrected as a computer program; The Bird People in China (1998) about the discovery of a lost culture; Audition (1999); the Yakuza film Dead or Alive (1999), which comes with a totally gonzo sf ending; the surreal Dead or Alive 2 Birds (2000); the six-hour tv mini-series MPD Psycho (2000) about a split-personalitied cop tracking a serial killer; the surreal black comedy The Happiness of the Katakuris (2001); Ichi the Killer (2001), a Yakuza film with some extreme torture scenes; the controversial taboo-defying Visitor Q (2001); the outrightly science-fictional, future-set Dead or Alive: Final (2002); the surreal Yakuza film Gozu (2003); One Missed Call (2003) about ghostly cellphone calls; the ultra-violent Izo (2004) about a cursed, immortal samurai; an episode of the horror anthology Three ... Extremes (2004); the superhero film Zebraman (2004); the fairytale Demon Pond (2005); the supernatural fantasy epic The Great Yokai War (2005); Big Bang Love, Juvenile A (2006), a prison murder mystery with SF elements; the SF film Gods Puzzle (2008); YatterMan (2009), a gonzo live-action remake of a superpowered anime tv series; Zebraman 2: Attack on Zebra City (2010); Lesson of the Evil (2012) about a murderous high school teacher; As the Gods Will (2014) with high school students being slaughtered by a doll; Over Your Dead Body (2014) wherein the roles in a ghost story play come to replay themselves in the lives of the actors; and Terra Formars (2016) about giant mutated cockroaches on Mars.