Out in UK cinemas this week, Japanese supernatural action comedy Yakuza Apocalypse is a film so unrelentingly bonkers you’ll question its very existence once the credits have rolled, and you wake up with a head-full of cycling frogs and evil bird-turtles the next day.
Was it all just a weird, fever dream?
Nope, it really is real – and trust us, you’ll never have seen a flick quite like it.
Directed by prolific genre-hopping genius Takashi Miike, who might just be the most gleefully mad filmmaker going, it combines genuinely thrilling fight choreography with outrageous and hysterically funny dark humour. Here are six reasons why it hits a whole other level of weird.
1. It’s a gangster vampire martial arts movie
With that statement left hanging, we could probably leave it at that, drop the mic, and walk promptly off the stage of this blog with job kind of done. But we’ll elaborate.
The film’s protagonist is a well-meaning Yakuza who, at the end of a long, ordinary day of dispensing justice on out-of-line thugs, finds himself transformed into a super-powered bloodsucker via the severed head of his boss. Cue all kinds of mayhem, as he is pitched against both gangland rivals, and a mysterious sect intent on ending all Yakuza vampires for good.
2. The main villain is a martial arts master in a giant frog costume
Behold the main bad guy! Billed as “the world’s toughest terrorist”, the ultimate nemesis is in fact a high-kicking demon clad in the crappest made-on-a-shoestring green felt frog costume since your drunk dad decided to go out on a stag weekend as Kermit.
Quite why this is the case is never explained, but then nothing about Yakuza Apocalypse’s bizarre roll-call of oddball characters and outlandish events really is.
Did we mention that the evil frog dude also has psychic powers?
3. The henchman from The Raid plays an assassin disguised as a nerd
Yayan Ruhian is his name, and being a badass is his game.
Having threatened to steal the show in the Raid movies, and even cameo-ing in the new Star Wars film, the Indonesian ass-kicker turns undercover geek here – as a deadly vampire-slaying warrior sporting the kind of specs, backpack and badges that make Milhouse look cool.
4. …and his fellow team members are just as odd
Backing him up on the vampire hunting front are a weird half-bird, half turtle goblin creature, and a Van-Helsing-in-fetish-gear gunman who sports a massive ruff around his neck, carries a coffin on his back, and fires lightening bullets at his enemies.
You’d think our hero would be doomed then. But you probably didn’t bank on the fact that…
5. An entire town of ordinary folk go nuts
We imagine there’s a satirical subtext here, or something, but essentially the whole local population – from schoolgirls to nurses to teachers – get transformed into Yakuza vampires; strutting calmly down the street as the world’s weirdest mob to dispense justice on their former gangster oppressors and tussle with the vampire hunters alike.
Our favourite supporting character? Probably the angsty teenage kid who starts wielding an axe and leaping on cars.
6. It features the world’s most messed-up knitting circle
Takashi Miike is a master of surreal, disturbing sequences, and one sequence introducing us to a group of chained captives forced to knit in a secret cellar is truly nightmarish.
Putting your foot out when ordered to doesn’t end well here (hint: it involves extreme pain for the unlucky wool-weaver). We’re never dancing the hokey cokey again…
Watch the trailer, and you’ll see exactly what we mean:
Yakuza Apocalypse is in UK cinemas on Wednesday January 6.