Fused with many different genre aspects, this Yakuza meets Cyborg film
REVIEWED BY - STEVE GENIER
DIRECTOR - Takashi Miike
CAST - Tsuyoshi Ujiki, Yasushi Kitamura, Shoko Nakahara and Ren Osugi.
SOURCE - ARTSMAGIC DVD NTSC DVD 9 REGION 1
directed by Takashi Miike (ICHI THE KILLER, AUDITION, DEAD OR ALIVE)
features many of his trademarks. Packed with mind blowing violence, strange
turns of events and twisted humor, and not to forget the buckets of blood. The pace to this action/fantasy/sci-fi crossbred no holds barred film will have your eyes glued to the screen and your ass planted firmly.
Kensuke (TSUYOSHI UJIKI) starts off at the bottom of the Yakuza chain with cleaning duty, in admiration of his idol, supreme Yakuza Gokudô Tousa. Peeking in through a crack in the doorway, Kensuke sees Tousa’s tattooed back, a dragon stretching from shoulder blade to shoulder blade. He would like to one day be just like him. Then, after a bloodied attempt on another gang leader, Tousa is sent to seven years in jail. As time goes by and Kensuke climbs the ladder, he is still looked upon as a loser and a total mishap in the eyes of his other associates. Failing to complete jobs presented to him, he becomes expendable. Then, the day comes as Tousa has finally served his jail term, he is released. Soon after his
release Kensuke escorts him to a meeting, but is quickly left there alone
with Tousa as a plan to kill both men goes into effect. They are gunned down
and killed in cold blood, or are they?
A mysterious scientist has collected the body parts of several dead people,
including those of Kensuke and Tousa. After being under for several months,
Kensuke awakens, but he finds that something is quite different. He has in
fact been resurrected, or at least parts of him have, the others being metal
and of Tousa. After finally coming to grips with his new state, he vows
revenge for both himself and Tousa.
FULL METAL YAKUZA is truly one wild Miike trip, one that takes us from one
scene of bloody violence to another. There is simply no stopping both FULL
METAL Kensuke and the action that sets the extreme pace of this shot on
video feature. Hey, that doesn’t mean there's no gore to add here, because
there is more than enough gore here to shake a stick at. Heads decapitated,
body parts splattered from scene to scene and torture scenes that will make
the best of them squirm. Though Miike is known for his face paced movie
making, that pace is ever so evident here. Surely not his strongest film to
date (story lacking in areas and acting well could use a boost here and
there), still, FULL METAL YAKUZA manages to pull out all the punches and
sets up the entertainment. If the action doesn’t do it for you, the on going
comedic undertones will have you chuckling from time to time. Like many of
his other films, most notably ICHI THE KILLER (2001), this film showcases an
unstoppable anti-hero of sorts that cleans house. Now Miike just has to have
an Ichi vs. Kensuke showdown to battle it out for weirdest costume.
Though, this may not be my favorite Miike film on record, there are still some redeeming factors to an extend. The one thing that works for me are the many likable characters presented in FULL METAL YAKUZA. Not really getting a hefty role in the first, Tousa’s girlfriend comes on very heavy in the second half of the film. When she is captured by the Yakuza and tortured, Miike introduces a classic factor here, beauty and the beast. A running Frankenstein-like feel, with a modern twist. You really develop a liking to both Kensuke and Tousa’s ex-girl. When she is going
through the torture process and Kensuke feels the pain (something he wasn’t
suppose to, but does), you really start rooting them on, hoping for the
best. Also, the many gory details Miike lays out on the table - the overdone
blood-spilling in just about ever slice and dice performed here. Oh, don’t
get me wrong, it adds to the shot in color experience. Just about every body
part being thrown around here, either sliced, shot to pieces or blown up.
Make sure you're wearing your seat belt for the 103 minute trip through this
gangland execution joyride.
Now, finally watching this much anticipated Miike film for the first time,
and what a great way too, watching the new Artsmagic DVD. This is one DVD
filled to the brim with extras, and that’s not all. First thing first, the
print itself is wonderful. Presented in anamorphic widescreen, and what a
clean print it is visually as well. Audio presented in Japanese Dolby
Digital with English subtitles and again, the sound is very crisp and clean.
Now, the added features are in abundance here, starting with three amazingly
detailed interviews with Takashi Miike himself. Discussing the process he
went through in choosing this particular film in the first place. The reason
why, especially with the state of the economy in Japan at the time and the
success of the shot on video from straight to video market. Second interview
is with Miike’s longtime editor and friend Yasushi Shimamura. He basically
discusses his working relationship with Miike among other things. The third
and final interview is with FULL METAL YAKUZA’S main star, Tsuyoshi Ujiki,
who discusses how he came to be cast in the film, from being in a rock band
and then eventually starting his acting career. All interviews are very
interesting and informative especially to those who are just starting out in
the strange world of Takashi Miike.
Just when most other DVD's conk out on you, this one is like the Energizer
bunny of the shinny format world. Artsmagic go the extra mile and grab
AGITATOR: THE CINEMA OF TAKASHI MIIKE author and Midnight Eye’s main man, Tom Mes, to pull all the punches for the DVD’s commentary. The rest of the
disc is rounded out with the usual scene selections, filmographies,
biographies, previews for two of Artsmagic’s animated fares, artwork and
more. If you plan to take that trip and begin your experience with Miike,
this disc is certainly a great start!
STORY - 2.5 BITCH SLAPS
PICTURE - 3 BITCH SLAPS
AUDIO - 3 BITCH SLAPS
EXTRAS - 4 BITCH SLAPS
OVERALL DVD - 3 BITCH SLAPS
For more info on this DVD and more Artsmagic DVD titles.