Full Metal Yakuza (1997)

full-metal-yakuza-dvd-coverThe premise is simple enough: mobster doublecrossed by fellow mobsters gets killed, rebuilt as a cyborg and returns to wreak havoc on those responsible for his death. As director Takashi Miike (Audition, Sabu) notes in an interview contained on the DVD, it was really so simple a premise that it wasn’t conceived by a screenwriter, director, or even a money-grubbing producer, but by a property guy who worked at the studio!

Despite the “why didn’t I think of it” genius of combining the Yakuza genre with the Robocop genre, as well as the presence of Miike, a director who usually is able to grab your attention regardless of what he’s telling, Full Metal Yakuza is a cheap looking and empty bore.

The lack of money shows up everywhere here, from the cyborg costume (basically a shirt that had some metal parts stitched to it), to the nonexistent lighting in many scenes, to some of the badly done special effects (a scene where a guy’s severed head flies through the air comes immediately to mind), to the off-putting acting, particularly that of Full Metal Yakuza (FMY) himself as well as the mad scientist who builds him.

FMY isn’t much of a success as a criminal. He’s a flop at trying to collect money from elderly merchants and is busted back down to cleaning mob toilets. Even worse, FMY is having problems in the bedroom! Naomi, the hooker he’s in love with, berates him for being a worthless lover which earns her a slap across her face. That earns FMY some cussing from her and the next thing I know FMY is in a park getting his ass whipped by a group of young punks. If ever there was guy in need of being rubbed out and rebuilt as a killing machine, it’s this guy.

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FMV and another mobster (Tosa) are killed in a struggle for control of the gang. A mad scientist building cyborgs buys FMY and Tosa’s bodies, combining their various body parts along with metal pieces to make a low budget battlebot endowed with such superpowers as the ability to run really fast, super strength, invulnerability, and most importantly of all, a big dong!

The mad scientist explains that FMY also has super powered eyes and hearing. This comes in handy when FMY hears his buddy humping his true love hooker and they’re making fun of him! FMY doesn’t do much of anything about that beyond sulking though, but he’s got lots of other mobsters to kill, so he probably figures his plate is already full enough.

After killing a bunch of people, FMY retires to the beach and reads. Seriously. The guy is living out in a tent along the ocean next to a grave site. He just lays around eating nuts and bolts out of a bowl while perusing some penetrating text on the meaning of life or some Astroboy manga or something like that. (FMY only eats metal now – this provides the movie with one of its more amusing scenes where we see him dipping a bicycle chain into some milk before eating it.)

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A woman arrives to visit the grave that’s near FMY’s tent and it turns out to be Tosa’s old girlfriend and the grave turns out to be Tosa’s. She and FMY strike up a friendship and she is somehow reminded of Tosa by FMY and immediately falls in love with him.

FMY is likewise smitten, but is torn by the fact that he’s a hideous machine. Well, sure, but don’t forget that you’re a hideous machine with a oversized ding dong! Your little lady is liable to overlook a little thing like the fact that you eat silverware instead of eating with silverware, if you’re Full Metal Yakuza downstairs!

For a moment I thought Takashi was onto to something fresh since he seemed to be setting up some new plot twists (especially with the mad scientist back in his lab trying to create a woman cyborg), but sadly, this is all just filler between FMY’s new girlfriend going on her own rampage in an effort to get revenge once she finds out who killed Tosa. She’s foiled in her effort, kidnapped, and is graphically abused.

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This prompts FMY to go on a final crazed rampage that ends with a guy getting chopped in half and with the mad scientist flashing us. I wasn’t entirely sure what that was about, but I was glad that Takashi or the Japanese censors or whomever had the good taste to digitally obscure the details for us.

It was all rather predictably tiresome though the spurting blood and occasionally chopped off limbs were a welcome breath of life in an otherwise uninvolving effort that looked every ounce its cut rate straight-to-video origins.

To its credit, the DVD from Artsmagic is amply supplemented with a number of interviews with Miike, the editor, and one of the stars as well as filmographies, biographies and a commentary track. The only problem with any of this is that the movie is so lacking, you’ll have very little desire to go behind the scenes of any of it as soon as it finally finishes.

© 2016 MonsterHunter

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