May 14, 2006
Movie Review By: SFAM
Directed by: Takashi Miike
Written by: Itaru Era (screenplay), Hiroki Yamaguchi (story)
Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Medium
Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Low
Key Cast Members:
Overview: Full Metal Yazuka is simultaneously a campy low-budget Robocop Rip-off done with gangsters and an exercise in a mild form of extreme Japanese cinema. Director Takeshi Mike (best known for Ichi the Killer, but also did Andoromedia) does his trademark extreme blood spatters, and includes lots of head chopping, gun fighting, and a torture-rape-suicide scene thrown in for good measure. You won’t get any big picture thoughts out of this flick, but you might want to tune in for the crazy action and visuals.
The Story: Kensuke Hagane (Tsuyoshi Ujiki) is a slacker junior gangster who doesn’t show a lot of potential. In his mind, he wants to be a Yazuka – a tough guy with a code that’s feared by all. Unfortunately, he just doesn’t have what it takes. He sucks at fighting, enforcement, and worse – he even sucks at love making. He idolizes the older Tousa, a gangster tough guy extraordinaire that has a detailed dragon tattooed on his back. After Tousa gets taken prisoner for 7 years, Hagane perseveres to become an enforcer. Unfortunately, when released, the Yazuka gang betrays Tousa and shoots him down – Kensuke gets killed in the crossfire.
Then the weirdness begins – Hagane wakes up in a strange lab, and finds out that his head has been removed from his body and is now attached to a cyborg body, partially made up with Tousa’s remains. He has Tousa’s heart, hands, feet, tattooed back, and most importantly, his very large “member.” An insane genius scientist ((TETSUO’s Tomorowo Taguchi), for reasons never explained, has brought him back to life, but before Hagane agrees to work with the scientist, he must take revenge on those who killed him and Tousa.
Hagane goes all out, killing his way to the top, but eventually stops due to the pleading of his former friend. Along the way, he also finds Tousa’s mistress (Shoko Nakahara), and falls in love with her. Things go horribly wrong when she is taken prisoner. Hagane now has to finish what he started.
Yes, He’s a Cyborg, But…: Nothing in this movie should be taken too seriously, especially the cyborg aspects of this. Kensuke eats bullets and other assorted metals for energy, but apparently doesn’t even need to grind his teeth to chew them. His body is fully metal, but apparently he’s had an extra large dick grafted on as well. He does weird chants in order to temporarily turn off his emotions (apparently, this trips a jump switch of some kind). I could go on, but nothing in this depiction of cyborgs is intended to be anything other than the creation of a setting.
The Visuals: Full Metal Yazuka gives us a number of trademark Takeshi Mike shots, including massive screaming, gratuitous blood spurts shooting in all directions, torture and rape, and a variety of surreal action scenes. From a cyberpunk standpoint, the interesting visuals take place when Hagane is first transformed into a cyborg. In many ways, they resemble a lighter version of Android from Notre Dame’s visuals.
The Bottom Line: Full Metal Yazuka is interesting in that it was apparently made for a very low budget. There is enough here in terms of strange, extreme cyberpunk visuals that many might really enjoy this flick. Just don’t be expecting too much from the story. There are whole sets of scenes that go absolutely no where (the female cyborg chick, for instance), and many more that strain the bounds of coherence. But if you’re interested in watching a campy, extreme Japanese, non-sensical cyberpunk flick, you might want to give Full Metal Yazuka a try.