Yakuza Apocalypse (Gokudou daisensou) (Blu-ray) (2015)

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Released 4-May-2016

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Comedy Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2015
Running Time 115:11
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Takashi Miike
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Hayato Ichihara
Yayan Ruhian
Riko Narumi
Lily Franky
Sho Aoyagi
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Koji Endo


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Japanese DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Japanese Linear PCM 48/16 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Prolific Japanese cult director Takashi Miike currently has 99 titles as director listed on the IMDb. His films are frequently confronting, often violent, cover a wide range of genres and sub-genres including comedy, westerns, horror or samurai films but are always unusual. They include Audition (1999), Ichi the Killer (2001), Sukiyaki Western Django (2007), 13 Assassins (2010), Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai (2011) and Over Your Dead Body (2014) as well as the more light-hearted moments such as Yatterman (2009) or Ace Attorney (2012). Miike is prolific and fast-moving, directing four or five feature films a year, but there is nothing cheap or shoddy about his films. Yakuza Apocalypse (Gokudou daisensou), made in 2015, almost defies categorization: it is a yakuza film, a kung fu film and a love story mixed with vampires, a spaghetti western gunslinger dressed all in black, a large man dressed in a green frog suit, a man with a duck-like beak, images of Medieval Europe with a monk like figure in a cowl in a landscape that could have come from the mind of Hieronymus Bosch, a woman who loses her mind in more than one sense and a monster who could bring the apocalypse and end the world.

     The plot, as far as it goes, is this. Boss Kamuira (Lily Franky) is a benevolent yakuza boss, looking after the people (civilians) in his patch. He is also indestructible, as we see in the opening scene, impervious to bullets and swords. This is because Kamuira is a vampire, but he keeps his urges for blood in check by having a stock of aging yakuza men captive in a basement so he can harvest and drink their blood without preying on his civilians. He is grooming Kageyama (Hayato Ichihara), a young and rather inept yakuza, to take over. But Kamuira can be killed; he is betrayed by some of his soldiers led by The Captain (Sho Aoyagi) and killed by a black-clothed gunslinger introduced with spaghetti western theme music and a kung-fu fighter (played by the Indonesian fighter Yayan Ruhian who appeared to great effect in Meranto (2009) and The Raid (2011/2014) films, not to mention a small part in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)), who twist Kamuira’s head from his body. The head revives just long enough to bite and infect Kageyama.

     Kageyama becomes a conflicted vampire but is unable to control his urges for blood, biting civilians and turning them into a yakuza vampire army intent on taking revenge upon those who had betrayed his boss. However he is reluctant to drink the blood of Kyoko (Riko Narumi) the young woman he had previously saved from being raped who is currently in hospital. Thus far, Yakuza Apocalypse has been a film played pretty straight as a yakuza revenge tale and a tentative love story, but with vampires. But now the film takes a surreal turn with the introduction of a man with a beak and claw like hands who is the messenger for a terror that may end the world, and a huge man in a green frog suit with superior kung fu powers (and a set of nanchucks!) Can Kageyama control his urges long enough to save the world? Your guess is as good as mine.

     Yakuza Apocalypse is brazen, bewildering, anarchic, incoherent, a script involving so many genres, ideas and twists that one suspects that a variety of substances were ingested during the writing. But amid the madness there are moments of very funny, very black humour, beautiful images such as the monk like figure in a cowl in a landscape of crosses, excellent hand to hand kung fu fights in which Hayato Ichihara, who is not a trained martial artist, does a very good job of looking good in fights with Yayan Ruhian, who is, moments of sadness and social commentary; a repeated concept is that the yakuza suck the life blood from the people. Nothing is explained and the last scene opens up as many questions as it solves, leaving one wondering what just happened.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Yakuza Apocalypse is presented in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     The look of the film varies considerably, which is reflected in the print. Outdoor sequences are bright with natural colours, most interiors under lights have a very yellowish / brown look while the scenes with the monster towards the end are soft and grainy, reminiscent of old monster movies. Skin tones thus also vary somewhat but blacks and shadow detail is solid, brightness and contract consistent and marks and artefacts absent.

     White English subtitles are burnt in. They were error free.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio options are Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1 or Japanese LPCM 2.0.

     The 5.1 audio is impressive. Dialogue is clear and the rears and surrounds were constantly in play with the slash of edged weapons, gunshots, grunts and impacts during hand to hand fights, screams, crowd and weather noise and the music. There are numerous examples of directional effects; doors close, voices and screams from out of shot, dripping water. The sub-woofer added oomph to the earthquake effects, thunder, fire and general destruction.

     The score by Koji Endo, who is also very prolific with 151 credits currently on the IMDb, was as varied as the genres within the film, thus providing a suitable adjunct to the visuals.

     There are no lip synchronisation issues.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Trailer (1:06)

     The film trailer.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Japanese Region A Blu-ray of Yakuza Apocalypse is a two disc Premium Edition but is not English friendly. Amazon lists a Region B UK release (but no Region A US as yet) but I cannot find a review so cannot say if there are any extras.

Summary

     If anarchy mixed with black humour, beautiful images, excellent kung fu fights and moments of sadness and social commentary appeals then Yakuza Apocalypse may just be the film you are waiting for. I can understand why those who like coherency in their stories would struggle with the film; I was confused but enthralled, fans of Takashi Miike will have a ball.

     The video is consistent with the look of the film, the audio excellent. A film trailer is the only extra.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, June 27, 2016
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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