The Sushi Typhoon production company has been cranking out genre works that blend the rhythms of Japanse pornography with the kinetic shocks of the action movie for a few years now, and Yakuza Weapon is a worthy, twisted addition to the studio’s catalog. This is action ballet via The Three Stooges, a slash-em-up that relishes its own absurdity and shreds maximum pounds of flesh per second. The filmmaking team behind Versus here lets few human bodies escape unscathed–whether it’s by hand, sword, bullet, or the occasional use of weapon-implant technology, the goofy characters populating this hyperactive boy’s vision of gang life are in a meat grinder from scene one.

Tak Sakaguchi plays Shozo Iwaki, the errant son of a great Yakuza leader who is gunned down in the midst of a hostile takeover of all the gangs in Japan. Shozo is back for his piece of the action, and brings his attitude toward dealing with bullets along with him: “You only get hit when you’re afraid of getting hit. I can even scare landmines with a glare.” Shozo is as much clown as he is killing machine, especially when his combat-mangled body is equipped with a pair of heavy-artillery limbs that he can barely control.  Along for a parallel ride is Tetsu, Shozo’s former brother-in-arms and his only true fighting match, who’s busted out of jail and is ready to take revenge on just about anyone. Their unsubtly homoerotic scenes of male bonding through violence add a necessary softness to the splatter and spew of the relentless, lightly plotted hijinks, which are punctuated by an invincible Shozo screaming screaming ‘Willpower!’ like a demented, Japanese Green Lantern.

In addition to its high-speed blender approach to violent action, Yakuza Weapon wears its perversity proudly. The gleeful fetishization of women in schoolgirl and nurse uniforms segues smoothly into the full-on weaponization of a girl’s body—Tetsu enters the third act wielding one of the strangest, nakedest guns in cinema history. Some of the more disturbingly misogynistic touches are tempered by Mei Kurokawa’s acidly funny performance as Shozo’s boat-throwing, insult-dropping girlfriend. Bound and trapped by Shozo’s sexually obsessed nemesis, Kurawaki, she spits: “Your flaccid prick would sting as much as a mosquito bite.” “You’re irresistible,” he replies, and he’s kinda right.

-Nathan Ripley


YAKUZA WEAPON has its Canadian Premiere on July 16th at 11:55pm in the Hall Theatre, and screens again July 17th at noon in the Salle JA DeSeve,  hosted by Co-Writer/Co-Director/Actor Tak Sakaguchi, Co-Writer/Co-Director Yudai Yamaguchi, Actor Arata Yamanaka and Producer Yoshinori Chiba.

About the author:

Nathan Ripley is a pen name of award-winning writer Naben Ruthnum. Published in QWERTY, The White Rabbit Quarterly, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Maple Tree Literary Review, Dark Tales and more, Ruthnum is currently stacking up short stories and completing a pseudonymous thriller as Nathan Ripley.


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