Mondo Yakuza (2016) (NTSC)

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Released 18-Jan-2017

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Introduction-by Michael Helms (3:10)
Audio Commentary-Cast and Crew
Interviews-Crew-Branded to Film (27:58)
Short Film-Drive-By (4:41)
Music Video-KAO=S Music Video ‘Tiamatsu’ (4:53)
Featurette-Monsterfest Q&A (16:54)
Deleted Scenes-x 4 (9:51)
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Start – up Trailers x 2 for other films
Reversible Cover
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 2016
Running Time 78:35
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Addison Heath
Studio
Distributor
Gryphon Entertainment Starring Kenji Shimada
Glenn Maynard
Rob Stanford
Skye Medusa
Cris Cochrane



Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music The Screaming Meanies
Shuji Yamagiri
Michael Lira


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, and drug use
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     When his sister is murdered in Melbourne Yakuza assassin Ichiro Kataki (Kenji Shimada) arrives in Australia to avenge her death. At the brothel where his sister had worked Ichiro meets her friend and co-worker Cassidy Arizona (Skye Medusa) and gets a lead to those who killed his sister, the low-life thugs the Beckett brothers Ryan (Glenn Maynard) and Calvin (Rob Stanford) and their best mate Dean (Cris Cochrane). From there it is all action as Ichiro shoots and slices his way through thugs and a death cult until the blood-soaked climax.

     Mondo Yakuza is a mini-budget, hand held, black and white, bloody, over the top, off-kilter action film which takes its inspiration from 1960s pop-art yakuza films such as Seijun Suzuki’s Branded to Kill (1967) and spaghetti westerns and comes complete with deliberate scratches, marks and the odd frame jump. Mondo Yakuza was co-written / directed / co-photographed / edited by Addison Heath, who wrote the interesting Australian black comedy Chocolate Strawberry Vanilla (2014), which I reviewed on this site. That film also starred Glenn Maynard; he was excellent as the obsessive ice cream man in Chocolate Strawberry Vanilla and he is also good in Mondo Yakuza as the manic Ryan although Mondo Yakuza is a film where characterisation and acting, not to mention plot, is subservient to action, grindhouse style and comedy. Indeed, there are frequent tone shifts throughout Mondo Yakuza, often in the same scene such as where the Becket gang while torturing a victim have an argument about a character in Get Smart. The tonal variations are aided by the diffuse music in the film which ranges across spaghetti western, hillbilly, Japan pop, Mexican pop, electronic cues and a fair bit in between.

     Mondo Yakuza is rated R and it is certainly bloody, violent and gory with most of the budget appearing to be spent on fake blood. It includes some cringe-worthy sequences including an ear being bitten off, a tongue pulled through a neck and that infamous p**** scene but the violence is very over the top and cartoon-like, not to be taken seriously. Indeed, the film cuts away from many impact scenes, such a weapon being driven into a skull or the impact of a shotgun; instead the camera lens is saturated in “blood” on numerous occasions, the p**** / sparkler scene is digitally censored (although you can view the uncensored version in the extras) and the intestines ripped out in various sequences look more like door draft stoppers than gruesome. Some of the film also makes little sense, as if the co-writers Addison Heath, Glenn Maynard and Kenji Shimada just thought “hey, wouldn’t it be cool if . . .” and put it in. And yet you have to appreciate the exuberance that went into the film, and the catchy and diverse score, so if an off-kilter yakuza action / black comedy appeals, Mondo Yakuza is worth a look.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Mondo Yakuza is presented in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio, is NTSC and 16x9 enhanced.

     Due to the way the film was shot as a black and white grindhouse film with scratches and constant marks it cannot be judged by the usual standards. However, detail is firm when it wants to be, such as in close-ups of faces. Blacks and shadow detail are very good and brightness and contrast are fine; there are also two effective flashes of colour.

    The layer change at 62:52 caused a noticeable pause in the middle of a scene.

     No subtitles are provided, although the Japanese dialogue is automatically subtitled.

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

Audio

     The audio options are English Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192 Kbps and an audio commentary, also Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192 Kbps.

     A lot of the dialogue feels improvised which means it is fresh but sometimes it is not clear what is being said, when subtitles would have helped. The audio is surround encoded but other than the music, some ambience and shots, there is little in the rears. The shots are solid enough but the highlight of the audio is the score by The Screaming Meanies, Shuji Yamagiri and Michael Lira which, as noted in the review, was very diverse. There were also three songs by KAO=S and two from Oz Locos which added to the fun.

     I saw no lip synchronisation issues.

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

Extras

Start – up Trailers (2:58)

     Trailers for Vixen Velvet’s Zombie Massacre and Sheborg play on start-up. They cannot be selected from the menu.

Introduction by Michael Helms (3:10)

     Similar to the DVD sleeve notes by film critic Helms.

Audio Commentary

     Co-writer / director / co-DP Addison Heath, co-DP / art direction / general dogsbody Jasmine Jakupi, producer Dylan Heath, star Kenji Shimada and another person whose name I could not catch watch the film. This is a rather disappointing commentary; there are silences, they tend to watch and comment on what is happening on screen, laugh and joke a lot and talk about other films they want to do. There is a bit about locations, stunts and the cast but they don’t talk about their decision to shoot grindhouse and black and white or really anything about the challenges of low budget filmmaking.

Branded to Film: An Interview with Addison Heath, Jasmine Jakupi and Dylan Heath (27:58)

     Addison Heath, Jasmine Jakupi and Dylan Heath sit together and chat to an off screen interviewer. This is humorous and lively as they talk about the genesis of the idea for the film, inspirations, the cast, financing, the shooting schedule, the action sequences and the score.

Drive-By - A New Short by Icorgan and Black Forest Films (4:41)

     Another tale of revenge by Addison Heath and Jasmine Jakupi.

KAO=S Music Video ‘Tiamatsu’ (4:53)

Monsterfest Q&A (16:54)

     Michael Helms at Monsterfest introduces cast and crew after a screening of the film and invites questions from the audience. On stage are Addison Heath, Jasmine Jakupi, Chris Cochrane, Skye Medusa, Kenji Shimada, Dylan Heath the fight coordinator, various production assistants and other crew and The Screaming Meanies. With 13 people on stage there is a bit of banter but little information of value, and the sound is indifferent anyway.

Deleted Scenes (9:51)

     Four scenes, all worth a look; The Western Cut is the uncensored cut of the p**** / sparkler scene:

Trailer (1:50)

Reversible Cover

     Inside the DVD cover is an introduction to the film by Michael Helms and a film poster.

R4 vs R1

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

     There is no other version of Mondo Yakuza currently available.

Summary

     Mondo Yakuza is a mini-budget concept film, an Australian homage to 1960s yakuza films. It is violent and gory and it includes some cringe-worthy sequences but filmed in artefact strewn black and white it is more like comic book violence which is too over the top to be taken seriously. The concept is fun, the film is interesting in parts and if you want to see a sparkler inserted where no sparkler has been before this is your chance.

     The video is as the filmmaker intended, the audio fine. The extras are decent for a no-budget film.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
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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