Yakuza Apocalypse (Takashi Miike, 2015)

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Playing this Friday and Saturday at midnight only comes the latest from prolific Japanese lunatic Takashi Miike. The limited late night time slot gives a hint of what to expect, even if you’re unfamiliar with Miike’s work, much of which amounts to highly imaginative reworkings of familiar genres, pushing them to their extreme (and often extremely violent) conclusions. But while the Miike review that doesn’t contain the word “gonzo” is a rarity, he is no scattershot shock auteur, rather his films, unpredictable as they may be, are always guided by a clever intelligence. He’s not a director of chaos, but of logical absurdity. Of the more than 40 films he’s directed this century, I’ve only seen a handful, but Yakuza Apocalypse is firmly in the tradition of earlier films like Sukiyaki Western Django, 13 Assassins and his remake of the Maskai Kobayashi classic Harakiri in their critique of the psychotic masculinity that underlies the ideology of Japanese action narratives. Of course, critiquing the samurai code has been an essential part of the samurai/yakuza genres in cinema since at least the end of World War II. But Kobayashi, Kihachi Okamoto and Akira Kurosawa, as far as I know at least, never made a film about gangster vampires fighting demons in plushy cosplay frog outfits.

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