Eeesh. Where to begin.
'Yakuza Weapon' is a self-proclaimed Japanese film that's "kicking ass worldwide." The synopsis of the film describes it as a hard core "battle royale" about a yakuza warrior seeking revenge for the murder of his father. After being knock unconscious during a skirmish, he wakes up to find that his arm has been replaced with a chain gun and his leg has the ability to fire rockets from his knee. Sounds a little like 'Planet Terror,' no? This would actually be fun if it delivered the goods, but it never does.
First off, it takes our yakuza warrior 47 minutes into the movie to lose his arm and leg in battle. Five minutes later we learn about his gun arm and five minutes after that we learn about his leg, which leaves only 40 minutes for him to use his sweet appendages in the campiest of ways. Sure, that's plenty of time to do so, but he hardly even uses them in that time slot – probably due to budgetary constraints. For a movie that pivots on this camptastic idea, it sure doesn't capitalize on it in any manner that 'Planet Terror' didn't do first and better.
I've seen plenty of zany Japanese genre films to understand and enjoy that odd brand of humor – pants ripping and farting – but there's a difference between tongue-in-cheek and ridiculously dumb, and this one is ridiculously dumb. A guy with a phone to his ear gets his head bashed in with a golf club. The man on the other end of the line is covered by liquidized brain matter that spews through the phone. Our central character has been running away from an arranged marriage. After several years of running, when the fiancee finally finds him, she throws a boat at him – not a toy boat, but a full-size fishing boat like those in 'The Perfect Storm.' As if that's not bad enough, when it hits him, he simply says, "Ouch!" and goes about his ways. It's like live-action Looney Toons, but it never winks and always plays out completely serious.
Another aspect of this film that knocks it down several pegs is its production value. Not a single special effect looks good. Imagine a Syfy original movie with the twice the amount of terrible effects as usual. Making matters worse is that fact that the film quality makes it look no better than what my buddies and I would shoot after school growing up. Aside from a handful of scenes, lighting is disastrously natural. The camera operators seem to have no sense of what they're doing – just like me and my friends. 'Yakuza Weapon' has "low/no budget amateur" written all over it. If I had paid for this Blu-ray, I'd be furious.
The action can't even salvage this film. Since the budget wouldn't allow for great effect-driven sequences, most of the movie relies on hand-to-hand combat. Being filled with yakuza warriors, you'd expect the action to be tight, concise and cool, but it's not. Once again, it looks how a teenage version of me would have looked trying to do martial arts – redonkulous. I'm no martial arts expert, but it's obvious when someone is trained in the methods and when they're faking – and these guys are all faking it.
When our central character is given his robotic overhaul, we are made to believe that it's a unique and special "rebuild" only available through a secret government organization, but then we see that several villains have also had these upgrades installed on their bodies. The main villain is unnecessarily given a three foot nuke detonator where his penis used to be and the arch-nemesis yakuza warrior has had his dead sister turned into a robot that launches missiles from her crotch. Classy.
As I've stated all of the things that made me strongly dislike 'Yakuza Weapon,' these may be things that you find entertaining – they're just not for me. If I want to watch a silly action-packet Asian film, I'll watch one that's actually entertaining like 'The Good, The Bad and The Weird.'
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Well Go USA has placed 'Yakuza Weapon' on a Region A BD-25 in two-disc blue vortex keepcase. The second disc is a DVD copy of the film. The usual pre-menu fanfare plays upon inserting the disc – an FBI warning, a vanity reel and trailers for 'Let the Bullets Fly,' '1911 Revolution,' 'Flashpoint' and 'The Stool Pigeon' - only you can't skip of any of it, just fast-forward.
'Yakuza Weapon' hits Blu-ray with a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio and, unsurprisingly, the video quality isn't all that far off from the quality of the movie.
The overall look of 'Yakuza Weapon' is similar to that of what a video you and I would shoot if we had a nice digital camera. It feels raw, giving it that gritty, uncleaned-up feel. There are very few instances of sharp and highly defined images – and that's not only because the camera is constantly unstable. Even the steady shots mostly seem unclear. The overall hazy look of the film also eats up potential detail.
Black are very mild and bands are frequent visitors. The biggest of the compression flaws is aliasing. Any time there is a well-defined rigid vertical or horizontal line, it's flickering like crazy. If there's a diagonal straight line, it looks toothy like a jigsaw. Surprisingly, there's no edge enhancement, DNR, noise or artifacts.
During action-filled sequences and music-filled moments, the 5.1 Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio is fantastic. But when outside those moments, it's lifeless and flat.
The opening action scene starts the lossless mix off with a literal bang. As our hero single-handedly defeats an enemy camp, all channels chaotically flare up with whizzing bullets, splattering blood and explosion-induced soaring debris. One scene takes place in the middle of a downpour and the mix is so strong that you could easily mistake it for real rainfall outside your home. Any and all action scenes are exemplary, but could use imaging. I didn't notice a single instance of sounds moving from channel to channel.
Unfortunately, outside of those loud moments, the surround and rear speakers aren't often in use. The majority of the audio comes from the front, giving the mix a flat and forward feel. At times during these lackluster moments, the volume balances aren't all that great. Dialog is lost, but unless you are fluent in Japanese, you'll be reading the subtitles anyways.
If you like hammy, slapstick, (supposedly) action-packed Japanese comedies, then there's a chance you might enjoy 'Yakuza Weapon.' I don't guarantee that you'll enjoy it, because the production quality here is beneath that of a North American Syfy channel original film. The sound and visual effects are terrible, as is the dialog and story. What tries to be tongue-in-cheek turns out ridiculous and dumb – and relentlessly so. The video quality is on the same page as the bad visual effects, while the audio has some pretty high moments. A movie this bad never warrants a 45-minute making-of special feature, but if you enjoy the movie, you'll love it. I recommend steering clear of this turd. There are plenty of other much-better Asian films ready to stream on Netflix right now.