Coming out very soon for streaming rental here on Japan Flix is action-comedy Yakuza Weapon. It’s the latest U.S. release of the infamous production company, Sushi Typhoon. Here’s a quick look into what’s in store for you if you rent this film.
There are all kinds of Japanese movies that make it overseas: from sappy j-dramas to samurai movies, NHK period pieces, and controversial independent cinema. Sushi Typhoon doesn’t do any of that. Their specialty is comically over-the-top special effects and gratuitous violence.
Sushi Typhoon’s films take Japanese stereotypes and push them to the extreme. Take a quick look at their filmography: Helldriver, about a chainsaw-katana wielding girl fighting a zombie infestation; Alien vs Ninja, exactly as the title reads; Mutant Girls Squad, about a group of schoolgirls who realize that they have mutant powers like growing tentacles from their fingertips; and Karate-Robo Zaborgar, about a crime-fighting robot who knows karate.
Yakuza Weapon is about Shozo (Tak Sakaguchi), the son of Japan’s meanest yakuza boss. While he’s overseas, he learns about the death of his father and returns to Japan, only to find that his father’s empire has been taken over by his father’s sneaky subordinate, Kurawaki. Not only has Kurawaki taken what’s rightfully Shozo’s, he doesn’t obey the chivalrous ways of true yakuza. However, when Shozo attempts to get his revenge, Shozo loses his arm and leg in battle. All is not lost, though, because Shozo wakes up in a secret military facility that resurrects Shozo as a yakuza weapon: a machine gun for his right arm and a rocket launcher for his left leg.
On the one hand, some Japanophiles may argue that what Sushi Typhoon does is morally disgusting. They promote a particular image of Japan that isn’t “real.” Violent ninjas and samurai, fetish-ized schoolgirls, excessive bloodshed, and the like aren’t actually the kinds of entertainment mainstream Japanese people consume, let alone accurate portrayals of Japan, past or present.
On the other hand, I argue that Sushi Typhoon is truly loyal to the Japanese spirit. The images of ninjas, samurai, schoolgirls and blood did indeed originate from Japanese artists, albeit from a small niche community. Perhaps Western audiences selected these images and enhanced them to a point where they dominated all other creative works from Japan. But, Japanese artists and creators, fed by these audiences, continued to develop these memes into a truly original, polished, and proud art-form.
Yakuza Weapon is actually a pretty funny, well-paced action film. The special effects and action sequences are not realistic, but that’s now become an intentional, stylistic choice for Sushi Typhoon. But even after all this rhetoric, not everyone is going to appreciate this film. However, I do hope that everyone can get behind the idea that these works are also a distinct product of Japanese culture not to be ashamed about.
You can rent Yakuza Weapon and stream it immediately on Japan Flix very soon. Release date was supposed to be February 7th, but unfortunately, due to problems with video encoding, there have been some slight delays. Keep checking this blog post and the Yakuza Weapon page for updates.