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Ex-yakuza Shozo Iwaki engages in a titanic battle of revenge against double-crossing Kurawaki, the man who killed his father. After a building-leveling skirmish, Shozo wakes up with an M61 Vulcan cannon in place of his right arm, and a rocket launcher where his left leg used to be. Shozo quickly learns to love his weaponized frame, and prepares for a bloody rematch with Kurawaki, who has some mechanical improvements of his own.
For more about Yakuza Weapon and the Yakuza Weapon Blu-ray release, see Yakuza Weapon Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on January 26, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Tak Sakaguchi
Director: Tak Sakaguchi
» See full cast & crew
Yakuza Weapon Blu-ray Review
Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, January 26, 2012
As hard for it may be for some of us to realize (and/or admit), The Three Stooges are apparently an acquired taste. Some people, believe it or not, simply don't have much tolerance for the literally in your face antics of Moe, Larry and either Shemp or Curly. There are actually some who insist The Three Stooges aren't funny, and those people are probably going to be similarly prone to dismiss the goofy goings on in Yakuza Weapon as similarly humor free. But Stooge lovers, not to mention anyone who has ever guffawed at a Chuck Jones cartoon, might want to check out this patently silly exercise which reinvents the Japanese gangster genre as a sort of Three Stooges melée where our more or less hero Shozo Iwaki (Tak Sakaguchi, who also co-wrote and co-directed Yakuza Weapon) can avoid injury even after stepping on landmine through sheer will power, and who can pummel a bad guy to within an inch of his extremely bad toupee while a cohort throws a stick of dynamite at other villains, a stick which careens through a door and around a corner to find its intended target. How can you hate a film that is built on such outré silliness? A lot of the creative crew who gave the world Versus in 2000 returns for Yakuza Weapon, another Sushi Typhoon release that doesn't really fall completely within the splatter genre but probably comes close enough for most fans. What Yakuza Weapon does offer, though, is some insanely wonderful humor, sight gags galore, and an okay enough story that keeps things moving just briskly enough to get the viewer from one epic fight sequence to the next.
You might think you've wandered into Apocalypse Now or Platoon as Yakuza Weapon as the film starts, for we seem to be in the middle of some sort of official war featuring a host of Asian combatants, with some cutaways to a few Americans. (It should be noted that this Blu-ray features some really strange subtitling, where supposed English is automatically subtitled in what I assume is Japanese ideographs while the Japanese language is subtitled in English. In fact the very first subtitle, which accompanies something that is basically inaudible but must supposedly be English, is in fact an ideograph. There's nothing wrong with your subtitles, that's just the way this feature is encoded.) Soon enough we figure out that if this is indeed an "official" war, it's mostly between Shozo and some mercenaries. Yakuza Weapon sets its tone almost right off the bat with a completely ludicrous (yet highly enjoyable) battle which sees Shozo evading multiple bullets simply by ducking and weaving slightly, and then (of course) pretty much single handedly decimating an entire fighting force. Bodies lose their heads, heads lose their ears, and a nefarious American (is there any other kind?) ends up with a head looking suspiciously like Swiss cheese. Again, what's not to love?
Shozo is informed at the end of this battle that his father, a Yakuza head honcho, has been assassinated. When Shozo returns home, he discovers that his father's lucrative "business" has become a sort of self-parody, a loan sharking operation run by a former nemesis of his father's, Kurawaki (Shingo Tsurumi). That of course leads to yet another battle (this is the one with the toupee and the magically flying stick of dynamite), which is interrupted in a way by the arrival of the love interest of the film, Sister Nayoko (Mei Kurokawa), who believes that Shozo had jilted her when he left for the battle with the mercenaries (isn't that always the way?). Yakuza Weapon isn't about to let any gangster film cliché get away red handed, and so soon Sister is being held captive by Kurawaki. That sets up the most lunatic element of the film, where both Shozo and Kurawaki are supposedly mortally wounded (or at least they would be if this film weren't a living cartoon). Let's just say that both of these guys come back, having been made "better than they were," in what I guess is a cumulative twelve million dollar man (men?) enterprise.
Yakuza Weapon was evidently shot on a modest budget in a little over a week, and that slapdash quality actually works surprisingly well for the film. Sakaguchi's manic energy spills over into his directorial tasks as well as his performance, and the entire film is just a lunatic assemblage of off the wall moments interspersed with crazy-funny fight sequences. The film builds to an expectedly over the top climax, which sees Shozu's "dead" father brought back as a housing element for a nuclear warhead (if you're expecting any of this to make sense, boy have you come to the wrong movie). That leads to a wonderfully bizarre ending redolent of Dr. Strangelove. Does nuclear holocaust mean there can't be a sequel? Thankfully, anything seems to be possible in the wild and wacky world of Yakuza Weapon.
Yakuza Weapon Blu-ray, Video Quality
Yakuza Weapon is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Well Go USA with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.78:1. This digitally shot feature has been significantly tweaked in post and it's therefore a bit difficult to assess things like "accurate" fleshtones and the like. As you'll see in several of the screencaps, the on the fly production leads to a somewhat soft look a lot of the time, something which is further exacerbated with contrast that is pushed to blooming levels quite a bit of the time. The palette has often been deliberately filtered and skewed, leading to some odd looking colors. Generally, though, the presentation here offers considerable fine detail, especially in close-ups. While the look of Yakuza Weapon isn't razor sharp, it's certainly at acceptable levels. Some of the CGI elements aren't especially convincing, again probably due to the film's relatively modest budget.
Yakuza Weapon Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Yakuza Weapon features an impressive lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, mostly in Japanese (both the Japanese characters, as well as a few American, do speak English—or something close to it, anyway—from time to time. The soundtrack is full of floorboard rattling LFE, and there are a number of fun and often funny sound effects, aural whip pans and goofy cracks, clunks and thwacks that make this mix both immersive and highly enjoyable. One thing that may grate on some people's nerves is the all out assault on the listener, something that continues in the dialogue, which is more or less screamed at full throttle throughout the whole film. The film also features a bass heavy, thump-heavy score which also keeps the subwoofer pumping out low frequencies for virtually the entire film. There's virtually no dynamic range here, considering the "turn it up to 11" mixing the entire film displays, but this track will give your home theater system a run for its money. Just be prepared for complaints from any close by neighbors.
Yakuza Weapon Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Yakuza Weapon Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Every so often it can be a lot of fun to just sit back and wallow (if that's the right word) in something as outright silly as Yakuza Weapon. This film makes no pretension about being great cinematic art, and it's to Sakaguchi's credit that everyone involved in the film seems to be in on the joke. This also doesn't really fit into Sushi Typhoon's usual "splatter" ethos, which is not to imply it doesn't have its fair share of blood and guts. But this is much more of a parody of the whole yakuza genre. It almost reminded me at times of that old Woody Allen reimagining of International Secret Police: A Barrel of Gunpowder and International Secret Police: Key of Keys, which Allen recut and redubbed as What's Up, Tiger Lily?. Those who are looking for anything other than a patently goofy outing with regard to Yakuza Weapon should probably keep looking. For those who don't mind outrageous silliness mixed with some rather amazing fight sequences, Yakuza Weapon will probably fit the bill quite nicely. Despite this Blu-ray having a fairly soft image, the audio and supplements (though slight) are exceptional. Recommended.
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Yakuza Weapon Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Exclusive Giveaway: Yakuza Weapon - January 30, 2012
Blu-ray.com and Well Go USA are offering three Blu-ray.com members the opportunity to win a copy of Versus star Tak Sakaguchi's wild and wacky Yakuza Weapon, the fourth film from the actor-turned-director. Yakuza Weapon blasts onto Blu-ray on February 7th.
• Yakuza Weapon Blu-ray - December 5, 2011
Next year, Well Go USA will bring Yakuza Weapon to Blu-ray. This action-adventure stars Tak Sakaguchi (Tokyo Gore Police) as the son of a Yakuza member who turns into an unstoppable killing machine when his father is murdered. Yakuza Weapon is expected to street ...
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