Yakuza Weapon
by Colleen Wanglund, MoreHorror.com

The gleefully twisted folks at Sushi Typhoon have done it again. The latest action-packed, blood-soaked black comedy YAKUZA WEAPON (2011) comes courtesy of co-writers and co-directors Tak Sakaguchi and Yudai Yamaguchi.

Based on an adult manga by the late Ken Ishikawa, YAKUZA WEAPON stars Sakaguchi as Shozo Iwaki, an extremely hard to kill mercenary working in the jungles of South America for the last four years. Shozo has been informed of his father Kenzo’s (Akaji Maro) death by two special agents with their own motives. Kenzo was a yakuza boss who had been double-crossed and murdered by his second-in-command Kurawaki (Shingo Tsurumi).

Upon his return to Japan Shozo is greeted in a rather unique way by his girlfriend (Mei Kurowaka) who loves him but wants to put a serious hurtin’ on him. Shozo, who is bent on revenge, goes after Kurawaki in a spectacular fight that leaves a building completely leveled, Kurowaki’s helicopter shot out of the sky, and Shozo losing an arm and a leg.

Shozo wakes sometime later in a strange hospital room with an M61 Vulcan in place of his missing arm—a la THE MACHINE GIRL (2008)—and a rocket launcher in his knee courtesy of those same special agents who found him in the jungle. Kurowaki, who has some mechanical editions of his own, has created a loyal gang using a super drug. He’s also used this drug to coerce Shozo’s best friend Tetsuo (Jun Murakami) into killing Shozo….and turned Tetsuo’s sister Sumire (Cay Izumi) into a naked weapon.

"YAKUZA WEAPON" is exactly the kind of movie I love—low-budget and loaded with special effects, which were overseen, once again, by my favorite SFX guru Yoshihiro Nishimura. While I absolutely loved the practical effects I wasn’t as crazy about the CGI….although I have always had a love/hate relationship with CGI.

Tak Sakaguchi’s Shozo is obnoxious, egotistical and a moron, but he is also determined, headstrong and tenacious. Tak Sakaguchi is Chuck Norris with a slapstick sensibility and one hell of a sense of humor. The script by Sakaguchi and Yudai Yamaguchi both points out and pokes fun at an idea of honor among the yakuza and while it’s over-the-top, the story is still pretty straightforward and is kept moving at a nice pace by the directors.

The fight scenes are plentiful and beautifully choreographed by Sakaguchi and Yuji Shimomura, including a four-and-a-half minute sequence combining fists and weapons that, according to Sakaguchi, was rehearsed once and then filmed in a single take. YAKUZA WEAPON, like the other titles from Sushi Typhoon (MUTANT GIRLS SQUAD {2010}, ALIEN VS. NINJA {2010}, HELLDRIVER {2011}), is like modern Vaudeville—pure camp entertainment.

There’s nothing heavy or deep about it and the movie doesn’t even attempt to be anything but fun. It’s a tongue-in-cheek, epically comedic action flick with homages to lone-warrior, samurai and martial arts movies of the 1970s and 80s.

What made it especially entertaining for me was that I got to see YAKUZA WEAPON with other fans of the genre during the New York Asian Film Festival, which included a Q&A with Sakaguchi, Yamaguchi and actor Arata Yamanaka. The movie is currently playing film festivals everywhere so if you can, catch a screening…it’s so worth it.

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