Yakuza Weapon (2011) – By Duane L. Martin

Shozo Iwaki (Tak Sakaguchi), son of the head of the Iwaki crime family in Japan, has been gone for four years. After single handedly killing a large number of military types and then their general on top of it, in what was probably one of the coolest and most creative kills I’ve seen in a very long time, Shozo is confronted by two of the Prime Minister’s special agents who have come to find him to tell him that his father was betrayed and killed six months earlier. Now, Shozo and his two sidekicks, Takuzo, the guy who never seems to be without some kind of explosives, and Santaro, the big muscle bound guy who takes care of business and never says a word, and they’re out to discover who betrayed his father so they can take revenge.

Very quickly, the trio discover that Shozo’s father had been betrayed by his junior officers, Kurawaki and Shimada. Kurawaki is now the head of what was formerly the Iwaki family’s section of the Japanese underworld, and is looking to bring all of the country’s crime families under his control. With the backing of a foreign organization called The Death Drop Mafia, a new drug called Hyper that is a hundred times more powerful than heroin and his foppish and effeminate sidekick who’s a scientific and computer genius, Kurawaki is on a mission to become the most powerful crime lord in all of Japan.

This film was directed by Tak Sakaguchi and Yudai Yamaguchi, two of the men involved in bringing us such films as Versus, Battlefield Baseball and Death Trance. This particular film plays out much like a manga comic, complete with over the top gore and CGI effects, explosions, super violence, intense visuals, badass characters and a whole lot of amusing humor mixed in.

Added into the mix of characters, we also have Nayoko, a tough as nails crime boss in her own right who has always wanted to marry Shozo after their fathers arranged a marriage for them, and Tetsu, a man who is Shozo’s near equal in terms of toughness and fighting ability. Every time Tersu and Shozo meet, they beat the ever living snot out of each other, but their battles always end up in a stalemate. Because of this, the two were like friends and brothers, but they both knew that one of them would have to emerge the victor eventually and kill the other.

Tetsu’s siser was killed by a thug who had raped her right in front of him, and in his grief, Tetsu turned to drugs and became obsessed with the memory of his sister. It was at this weakest point that he was recruited by Kurawaki to kill Shozo. Kurawaki hooked him on Hyper and his sidekick turned Tetsu’s sister’s body into a robotic weapon, complete with a mouth machine gun and a crotch rocket launcher.

As for Shozo, after a run in with Kurawaki in which he had his arm shot off by the machine guns of a helicopter and his leg blown off by a rocket launcher fired by Kurawaki himself, he was taken by the special agents to their secret facility at an abandoned spa where they used the very latest in human / machine hybrid technology to turn Shozu in the most powerful Yakuza in the world. His right arm was reconstructed, and now could switch between a normal arm and a vulcan machine gun at will, and his left leg was reconstructed to that it could pop open at the knee to launch anti-tank rockets. Now that he was quite literally a killing machine, the government agents recruited him to stop Kurawaki and prevent The Death Drop Mafia from gaining a foothold in Japan. Over and above everything however, Shozu wanted revenge, and he was going to have it, no matter what attempted to stand in his way, be it his old adversary Tetsu, mobs of Hyper addicted henchmen, or even a nuclear device implanted in the chest of his dead father’s body.

While the CGI in this film is obviously CGI, the obviousness of it doesn’t have the detrimental effect that it has in many other films. In fact, it almost serves to add to the fun in this one, giving it more of a manga / comic style that serves the story very well. I was actually a bit surprised by how a bit of it was done. The description on the box said that he had his arm replaced with a machine gun, and his leg with a rocket launcher, so I was expecting it to be something like Planet Terror, where they replaced Rose McGowan’s leg with a machine gun, but that wasn’t the case here. This ability to switch back and forth between his normal limbs and the weapons actually worked out far better than if they had just gone with straight weapons, because having his normal arm and leg back where he could just materialize the weapons at will, made it so he could still be a total badass in the fight scenes, while whipping out his machine gun and rockets at various intervals in the fight, only to put them away again and go on fighting.

Perhaps one of the greatest aspects of this film are the sidekicks. Shozo’s sidekicks are one hell of a lot of fun, which is only enhanced by their loyalty to Shozo, and each other. They’re just really likeable and the more you see them in action, the more you want to see. Kurawaki’s sidekick is so foppish and creepy that it makes him really entertaining to watch. Another great side character, even though he was barely in it, was Shozo’s father. The scene where he gets shot 88 times and still manages to kill his attacker is just priceless. The guy also really looks the part. He’s got that mean old man look that makes it look like he’s angry because he’s constipated.

Now here’s the bonus. One of the special features on this film is a fifteen minute spinoff short called Takuzo weapon, which is absolutely hilarious. So you get even more of his awesome sidekicks! In this short, Takuzo found 10,000 yen in his pocket and went out drinking. He comes home all drunk with Santaro’s favorite shortcake as a gift for his friend. While Santaro is eating the cake, Takuzo notices that there’s a paper on the wall saying that Santaro is licensed to modify humans, like what they did to Shozo. Takuzo gets all excited and drunkenly begs his friend to turn him into a weapon like Shozo. Santaro agrees, and the rest of the short basically goes through all the different modifications they could make to him, showing the results of each and why they wouldn’t work out all that well, while trying to decide which one to go with. This short is straight up comedy and it’s a total blast. It also allows you to really enjoy the characters without any external story or interference. To be honest, I’d love to see another film with these characters. They’re just that much fun.

So you have comedy, awesome fighting, ultra violence, massive amounts of destruction and mayhem, characters that are fun to watch and a story to pull them all together. Any fan of violent Japanese films will absolutely love this one, and the extra included short makes this a release you will absolutely want to add to your collection. The visual quality of the blu-ray disc is great, as is to be expected, and the disc also includes deleted scenes, a behind the scenes featurette and trailers. This was done for the DVD + Blu-Ray combo pack release.

Do yourself a favor and pick up this great new release from Well Go USA. You won’t be sorry.

You can find out more about this film by checking out  its page on the Well Go USA website here.

Available on Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD Combo PackDVD