Full Metal Yakuza (1997)

Directed by
Super-cheap but gleefully twisted and inventive
Reviewed by Simon on 2002-12-03

Takashi Miike may well be the savior of modern cinema - more than any other film maker I'm aware of, Miike keeps pushing the boundaries of the art form. He's also got a deliciously sick sense of humour.

FULL METAL GOKUDO is an early Miike movie (with the rate he produces movies, even 5 years ago is a long way back in his career). It's a made for video ultra-cheapy, probably made in a couple of weeks for a few thousand yen. The basic premise is Robocop meets a Yakuza movie... producing the Full Metal Gokudo himself, a low ranking Yakuza gangster whose body is reanimated by a self-proclaimed genius scientist, to be a crime fighting superhero. Though things don't quite go according to his plans.

Despite the very very low budget and terrible special effects, FMG contains buckets of that Miike imagination and intellect. Subtle, dark humour occasionally gives way to comic absurdity - and occasionally to something much darker and more disturbing. Nothing as sick as you will find in Ichi The Killer or Fudoh, but enough to trouble the more squeamish viewers no doubt. There's a little bit of a heart in the movie too though, for the viewer who can look past the gore and idiocy.

Mostly though, FMG is just a silly comedy. It takes a bunch of mostly loathsome characters and puts them in a ridiculous situation, then has fun seeing how everybody reacts. It's a movie that could only have come from Japan, and probably only from Takashi Miike himself. The ultra low budget means its never going to get mainstream popularity, but it's the perfect material to become a lightweight cult classic.