Yakuza Weapon (2011) poster

Yakuza Weapon (2011)


(Gokudo Heiki)

Japan. 2011.


Directors/Screenplay – Tak Sakaguchi & Yudai Yamaguchi, Based on the Manga by Ken Ishikawa, Producers – Yoshinori Chiba, Toshiki Kimura & Syuichi Takashino, Photography – Masakazu Oka, Music – Nobuhiko Morino, Visual Effects Supervisor – Tsuyoshi Kazuno, Makeup Effects Supervisor – Yoshihiro Nishimura, Production Design – Nori Fukuda. Production Company – Nikkatsu.


Tak Sakaguchi (Shozo Iwaki), Shingo Tsurumi (Kurawaki), Mei Kurokawa (Sister Nayoko), Jun Murakami (Tetsu), Cay Izumi (Sumire), Akaji Maro (Kenzo Iwaki)


Shozo Iwaki, the son of the head of a yakuza family, has been away in South America as a hired fighter, where he has developed a fearlessness, not even afraid of walking into gunfire. He returns to Japan to find that his father has been murdered and the family operation taken over by his subordinate Kurawaki. Shozo swears vengeance but in attempting to bring down Kurawaki, his arm and leg is severed by fire from a helicopter-mounted machine-gun. Government agents come and rebuild Shozo with heavy weaponry attachments, turning him into a cyborg weapon, with the intent of taking down Kurawaki.

Tak Sakaguchi is a former underground street fighter who was discovered by director Ryuhei Kitamura and appeared as the lead in Versus (2000). Since then, Sakaguchi has had a modest career both as a fight choreographer and an actor in films such as Battlefield Baseball (2003) and Dead Ball (2011), among other works. He has been given the director’s chair three times with Be a Man! Samurai School (2008) and Yoroi Samurai Zombie (2008), while he was also one of three directors on Mutant Girls Squad (2010). Yakuza Weapon was his fourth directed film to date.

With Yakuza Weapon, Tak Sakaguchi was handed the manga Gokudo Heiki by the late Ken Ishikawa, which appeared in Shonen Ace magazine between 1994-6. Sakaguchi was given a limited budget and tight schedule to bring the film in on and so recruited Yudai Yamaguchi, who had directed him in Battlefield Baseball, Chromartie High School (2005), Dead Ball and the subsequent One Percenter (2023), to come and help. Yamaguchi had written Versus and went on to direct The Present (2005), Tanami: The Baby’s Curse (2008), Abductee (2013), Chin-Yu-Ki: The Journey to the West with Farts (2016) and Rokuroku: The Promise of the Witch (2017), as well as episodes of the anthologies Ten Nights of Dreams (2006), An Encyclopaedia of Unconventional Women (2009) and The ABCs of Death (2012). He also co-directed Meatball Machine (2005).

It is possible to tell which sections of Yakuza Weapon are made by which director. You get the impression that Tak Sakaguchi made the earlier sections in which he plays the yakuza family heir on the vengeance trail, while the latter half takes a turn into gonzo over-the-top splatter effects, which would seem to be Yudai Yamaguchi’s specialty, given that this is the type of films he has made elsewhere.

Tak Sakaguchi in Yakuza Weapon (2011)
Tak Sakaguchi (also the film’s co-director) as the Yakuza Weapon

The first half dealing with Tak Sakaguchi trying to reclaim his family’s Yakuza title is poorly made. On the basis of this, I would readily have dismissed Yakuza Weapon as the worst of the films in the Gonzo Japanese Splatter Movie fad. The tone is over-the-top silliness – as witness the opening scenes in South America where Sakaguchi wades into oncoming gunfire while proclaiming “You can only get hit if you’re afraid of getting hit.” These scenes look cheap and quickly shot with little or no time for reshoots. Everything is pitched at a shrill cartoonish level where nobody seems to be taking the show seriously.

Yamaguchi turns his half into another of the Gonzo Japanese Splatter Films. There has been a fad for these ever since the 2000s, films that come filled with buckets of gore, over-the-top violence and methods of despatch, novelty weapons. See the likes of Attack Girls’ Swim Team vs. the Undead (2007), Hard Revenge, Milly (2008), Tokyo Gore Police (2008), Robo Geisha (2009), Samurai Princess (2009), Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl (2009), Big Tits Zombie (2010), Gothic & Lolita Psycho (2010), Helldriver (2010), Zombie Ass: The Toilet of the Dead (2011), Dead Sushi (2012) and Bloody Chainsaw Girl (2016), among others. It’s been part of the fad since The Machine Girl (2008) and Mutant Girls Squad to have protagonists with weapons attachments that screw on to the body, although the whole cyborg Yakuza was previously conducted in the early Takashi Miike film Full Metal Yakuza (1997).

In these scenes, Yudai Yamaguchi lets all stops go and throws in a demented range of scenes with Tak Sakaguchi shredding and splattering bodies with his Gatling gun attachment arm, even holding one of the nurses up in mid-air on top of a hail of gunfire while he lies on the operating table, not to mention has knees that handily turn into rocket launchers. One of his opponents is a woman who is picked up and wielded as a weapon where her vagina also turns out to be a rocket launcher.

Trailer here

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