'Yakuza Apocalypse' - Movie Review

Takashi Miike has recently made a couple fairly conventional and critically well-regarded movies ("13 Assassins" and "Hara-kiri: Death of a Samurai" in particular come to mind, both widely distributed on this continent). Bloody and nasty, but remarkably traditional compared with his previous work. Looking at his resume on Wikipedia it would appear that he's never really stopped making those crazy weird movies where he got his start and developed a significant cult following, but this is the first of that breed I've seen in a long time (they've never got as much air time over here).

Our protagonist is Kageyama (Hayato Ichihara), second in command to "The Boss" Kamiura, who, despite being Yakuza, is well-loved in his town for truly taking care of people. But the movie is already a fractured structure, a set of vignettes that don't quite sit right together, telling you little pieces of information about the characters. Kamiura is pretty much unkillable, until one day "Killer Priest" (that's how he's listed in the IMDB credits) walks into town. In death, The Boss passes his powers to Kageyama, who gets a very odd education in being a vampire from the owner of a local restaurant ... who keeps the vampire blood supply in the form of chained knitting men in the basement. The owner goes down there occasionally to stamp on their toes in his wooden shoes. (Yes, they knit. Yes, he stamps on their toes. It makes that much sense.) And then there are the bird and frog spirits, the latter first showing up in a mascot uniform - but he's utterly lethal at the martial arts. Oh, and I forgot to mention: Yayan Ruhian is in the mix too, as an assistant to Killer Priest. Ruhian won't be familiar to most people, except hardcore fans of action who already know him well: he was in both "The Raid: Redemption" and its sequel, and he's a damn fine martial artist (although not much of an actor).

It all adds up to a weirdly mesmerising mash-up that makes very little sense. Fans of Miike will know what to expect, most others should probably skip it.