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Full Metal Yakuza (1997)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Takashi Miike

Starring:
Tsuyoshi Ujiki/ Kensuke
Yasushi Kitamura /Tosa
Shoko Nakahara /Yukari
7 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
Kensuke (Ujiki) is a poor man’s Yakuza: more comfortable scrubbing floors than taking on rival gangs. But when he and his boss Tosa (Kitamura) get mowed down, he wakes up a Super-Cyborg with a robotic armor, special skills and some of Tosa’s body parts. Yup, a mad scientist got his claws on the human remains and went "Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs", creating his own Frankenstein! RoBo-Yakuza eventually hits the streets to seek revenge on his murderers in red wet ways! BANZAI!!
THE LOWDOWN
Part man, Part Machine, All Yakuza.

Takashi Miike is starting to warm my toaster in a big way. He ruined me with “Audition”, snapped my neck with "Ichi the Killer" and now tickled my funny bone (I mean, the one in my pants) with the shamelessly exploitive "Full Metal Yakuza". Knowing beforehand that the movie was shot on DV and on a low budget for the Asian straight-to-video market, I will admit to being a tad scared of tackling it. The “DV” format usually spells doom for my viewing displeasure since I LOATHE its look! Thankfully, Miike made it work via his Midas touch, giving the film the same stylish attention that he bestows upon his higher budgeted efforts. I didn’t know DV could look so damn sweet!

Owing its panties, bra and then some to Paul Verhoeven’s groovy classic "RoboCop" in terms of content, this bad-boy ultimately diverted its path for all the very sinful reasons. Think "scrambling through the ultimate genre trash can" and finding all kinds of high-class crap! First, the flick acted as a tight Mafia opus, with kool Mob shenanigans stroking me the right way. Then, the delicious gore-show kicked in with a slew of action scenes involving sharp swords and brutal slashings left and right. YOU WILL SEE RED! The gnarly sci-fi devices also hit the spot, with RoBo Yakuza’s special eyesight and “super strength” resulting in many pleasurable ruckus-filled scenarios. How about some chuckles? Do we get those too, Uncle Arrow? You bet we do! The daring circumstantial humor found here had me on the floorboards and then some. I be-pissed myself many o' times in giggles while watching this puppy rip it up (look out for that giant rubber cock).

And the genre-bending tendencies didn’t stop there, my living dead friends! Miike even went as far as aiming to tug the heartstring by slapping in a manipulative, yet involving, “romantic” subplot. Being that everything else in this circus was either repulsive, hilarious or mucho perverted, I must applaud Miike for managing to make it work on me! I’m either a sucker or the man is a genius! Lastly, this Philly blunt puffed hard on a smut-hut level with ample female nudity and one hell of scene displaying nasty bondage - group rape and a heartwarming bit of necrophilia. Ouch! Feminists beware: this celluloid criminal might piss you off in a big way! Now do my dishes! Just kidding…the dishes are already done…no need to get up.

On the stale side of the blade, I wasn’t bowled over by some of the fight choreographies found here, which were, at times, overly simple (I’m sure the low budget had something to do with that) or too redundant for my liking. I also found the middle section of the picture to be a bit "laggy" in places, as the flick dropped its heaviest bombs in its first 50 minutes and didn’t always manage to sustain its explosive energy for its last 53 minutes. And it must be said that the tacky visual effects (such as the blue lightning) were quite hilarious on one end, but lessened the power of the film’s whole on the other. Depending on your mood, the cheesy visual tricks will either crack you up or make you groan.

When all was said and decapitated, "Full Metal Yakuza" wound up being a schizophrenic and enjoyable exercise in exploitive trashiness. You like your films silly, filthy and violent? Slap this one on the ass, pop its corn, call it Groucho and slit its throat. Yakuza this!
GORE
Hello sir. Today’s menu consists of Grey Poupon, Oyster a La Crabe and lots of fuckin' blood! We get: cut off limbs, decapitations, a body cut in half, self tongue biting, a slit opened neck and groovy Cyborg-related goodies (like the severed head or the giant wiener)
ACTING
Tsuyoshi Ujiki (Kensuke) sold me on his vulnerable and eventually in-vulnerable character. Yasushi Kitamura (Tosa) had this groovy imposing presence about him...I wish he would’ve been in more of the film. Shoko Nakahara (Yukari) had a tight bod, a gorgeous face and a sweet ass! As for her acting skills…WHO CARES! Just playing…the girl was very credible in her role, especially when nude, just kidding again…she held her own acting-wise…I mean it this time!
T & A
Miike loves T&A and we love him for it! We get random tit shots, a chick in a wet, see-through outfit and that same girl hooked up to some S&M apparel with legs spread eagle and nipples up. The ladies get some male buns. NOTE: Some of the more explicit shots (like the twat stuff ) were blurred. Surprisingly, I heard Miike did that himself in the name of “art” as opposed to the censors.
DIRECTING
Give Miike a Fisher Price camera and he’ll probably turn out something stellar. Here, the man went "all out" in the creative camera angles and slow motion department while putting out a brilliant use of flashbacks and mostly tense action scenes. Good work!
SOUNDTRACK
The varied score served the film’s various tones like a champ!
DVD FEATURES
Distributor: ArtsMagic Release Date: May 25th, 2004

IMAGE: We get a Digitally Enhanced 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen image.

SOUND: We get a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track.

EXTRAS:

Interview with Director Takashi Miike (33 minutes): The man behind the plan gives us some insight on how "Full Metal Yakuza" came to the screen, his two cents on Japan’s STV market and the creative freedom that it allowed new directors. This interview was insightful and entertaining with Miike being surprisingly soft-spoken through the whole affair.

Interview With Editor Yasushi Shimamura (15 minutes): Yasushi provides a very energetic interview speaking of the film and his appealing relationship with director Miike, giving us more info about the man behind the lens in the process. Fun times!

Interview with Tsuyoshi Ujiki (25 minutes): Here, the star of the film talks about his experience on set, his past as a rock star and the physical hardships of the shoot. His flashy clothes almost upstaged him the whole way…I said almost…

Commentary With Tom Mes: Tom Mes’ vast knowledge of Asian cinema was showed off in this non-stop, trivia-filled commentary. Not much dead time here! The man is a “talking” machine and made for a good listen!

We also get Filmographies - Biographies - Previews and an Artwork Gallery. The flick was uncut and played in Japanese with optional English Subtitles.
BOTTOM LINE
"Full Metal Yakuza" was an early Miike flick. Granted, it wasn’t as mature as his later efforts, but it still exceedingly pleased via its mostly high octane demeanor and mind-numbing, genre-bending ways. Its audacity when it came to the little treasures we call sex, laughter and violence was also much appreciated by this a-hole! Sure, this party was no more than edgy fluff and its pace did lag at times, but if like me, you get your kicks out of seeing some twisted, depraved shite sometimes, I recommend you hit this Yakuza up! He’ll get the job freakin' done!
BULL'S EYE
The film is also known as “Full Metal Yokudo”.

This flick is being released in North America by ArtsMagic.
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