Another Hole In the Head 2011 Film Festival runs June 2nd through the 16th at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco. Check out the Festival Genius site for film schedules and tickets.
Directed by Tak Sakaguchi
Shozo Iwaki (Tak Sakaguchi) is a kick-ass mercenary on a mission in the jungle. Bullets whiz by his head and bombs go off beneath his feet, but he continues on with a grimace and a growl. And a fedora. He gets word after single-handedly wiping out the tens of machine gun-toting baddies that his father has been murdered back in Japan, so he heads home and discovers his clan in disarray. Enemy yakuza are vying for power, a madman with a motorized dildo is threatening Shozo’s ex-girlfriend, and his old friend Tetsu is causing havoc with a very powerful, very deadly, and very naked weapon. And yes, he’s holding it in the picture above.
“No nuke scares a true yakuza!”
Shozo’s return quickly culminates in an epic battle that not only levels a skyscraper but leaves him missing an arm and a leg as well. A lesser man would bleed to death and probably whine while doing so, but not Shozo. He’s picked up by a secret government agency intent on creating a human weapon and equipped with machine gun and rocket launcher appendages. The turf war rages on with Shozo making short work of the enemy henchmen until he comes face to face with the hooded Tetsu who carries his own bio-mechanized hardware… his totally nude, fully weaponized little sister. Curious what a rocket launcher bajango would look like? Wonder no more.
This is not a movie concerned with subtlety. Shozo is a loud, egotistical, and slightly moronic character, but Sakaguchi (Versus) manages to find the sliver of charm that keeps him entertaining as well. Weapons fire with big CGI-enhanced muzzle flashes, baddies die in showers of bloody giblets, and everyone chews scenery like it’s the first sustenance they’ve had in weeks. It’s over the top to be sure, but it’s fun and stays pretty straightforward in its narrative.
Yakuza Weapon is the latest salvo from the fine fucked up folks at Sushi Typhoon, the recent offshoot of Japan’s oldest film studio, Nikkatsu Corporation. Other recent releases from the company include Alien vs Ninja, Mutant Girls Squad, and (the seemingly out of place) Cold Fish. They also put out the abysmal Helldriver, but the less said about that one the better. It doesn’t take but a few minutes of watching to realize Yakuza Weapon belongs to the recent genre of Japanese cinema that sprouted from the worldwide success of The Machine Girl… low budget, loaded with a mixed-bag of effects both practical and CGI, unconcerned with acting skills, and wonderfully perverted.
As goofy as the movie ultimately is it still finds time to comment however briefly on the idea of action heroes and films. The jungle-set opening plays almost like an homage to all things Rambo and begins with a scrawl about honor among Yakuza. It’s not quite interested enough to seriously dissect the manly action hero dynamic, but it pokes more than a few jabs at it including the ex-girlfriend character, Nayoko, who throws a boat at him out of feminine rage. Yes, a boat. She’s the only one able to beat his ass, which makes it a romantic gesture when Shozo has to save her from the bad guy who kidnaps her, dresses her up like schoolgirl, and then threatens her with a motorized dildo. So if nothing else I’ve described has quite sold you on the movie…
The Upside: Hot, naked Asian chick is possibly the best weapon ever; Sakaguchi plays the lead with the perfect mix of bravado and ridiculousness; action is cartoonish but fun
The Downside: Non-action bits can drag; for fans of a very specific genre niche only
Check out all of our Another Hole In the Head Film Fest coverage here.