To celebrate the upcoming release of Yakuza Apocalypse, we looked at nine other foreign-language greats that if you haven’t watched by now, you really should do so…
It would appear that in the underworld of the Yakuza, vampires lurk in the form of boss Kamiura. As Kamiura’s most loyal follower, Kageyama (Hayato Ichihara) is ridiculed by the other gang members for having sensitive skin rendering him unable to get a tattoo, however after an insane series of events involving vampire Kamiura, Kageyama finds a tattoo appears covering the whole of his back. From the director of 13 Assassins and Audition, Takashi Miike brings back his classic surreal and bizarre narrative. From the mystical creature that is the vampire, to a martial arts frog, Takashi Miike creates a crazy and awe-inspiring film packed with plenty of martial arts action.
Big Bad Wolves
From directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado comes a brutal depiction of revenge and vigilantism. A young girl is taken and the suspect is a school teacher, Dror, who ends up meeting the girl’s father and retired military veteran, Gidi (Tzahi Grad), and vigilante ex-police officer Micki (Lior Ashkenazi) resulting in unfortunate circumstances. In the most brutal and disturbing way, using intense plot twists and simple camera angles which place the audience in the scene; this film unravels the emotions of a parent who’s had their child taken from them, through a thrilling emotional ride. No wonder Quentin Tarantino reckons it’s “the best film of the year”.
Similarly to Yakuza Apocalypse, Pan’s Labyrinth is a mixture of fantasy with elements of horror. As the stepdaughter to a sadistic army officer during the Spanish Civil War, Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) finds herself exploring the strange and frightening, yet alluring and mystical world that is Pan’s Labyrinth. Through the use of incredibly lifelike supernatural creatures along with dramatic and gripping cinematography, this film is truly weird, and truly infatuating. Guillermo del Toro (Blade II and Pacific Rim) has woven a beautiful story through the use of visuals and dialogue in which you feel like crying in fear and sorrow all at the same time.
The Skin I Live In
When a highly skilled plastic surgeon, Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas), is troubled by his past, he experiments to create an artificial skin that cannot be cut, bruised or damaged, using a rather uneasy woman as his test subject. Pedro Almodóvar has used eerie shots creating a tense and unnerving atmosphere, and characters of varying types and agendas, this film is as crazy and peculiar as Yakuza Apocalypse. He’s an incredibly talented director and if you like this film, then check out his other works such as Talk To Her and Volver.
From the Yakuza Apocalypse director, Takashi Miike, comes Gozu, a bizarre and shocking film in which Takashi Miike once again focuses upon the Yakuza. In a horrifying tale of a Yakuza enforcer who must deliver a friend to his death, but when the friend disappears during the journey the narrative takes a turn for the worse and a horrific and unreal adventure takes place. This film was released back in 2003 but still holds up to the martial arts horror films of new to cement just how love Miike’s films are.
He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not (A La Folie… Pas Du Tout)
This film appears to be a typical romance when it seems the story is about a young woman’s love for a married psychologist and her attempt to convince him to leave his wife, shown from her perspective. However, when the story rewinds back to the start and is then shown from his perspective, this romantic tale quickly turns into a thrilling episode. Through Laetitia Colombani’s clever use of alternating perspectives, this film switches from romantic to eerie pretty quickly, throwing your emotions around like they’re trapped in a hurricane. The film also stars Audrey Tautou, most famous for her role in Amélie a year earlier in 2001, which was one of the reasons she was picked up for He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not.
This film is as fantastical and unusual as Yakuza Apocalypse due to the mythical creatures that play the antagonists in Troll Hunter. This film depicts the journey a group of students take as they set out to study a sequence of unusual bear deaths, along the way they meet a hunter with very particular prey who leads them to trouble when they discover what has really been killing the bears. This film is created eerie and suspenseful due to most of the camera work being shot on a handheld camera, to give the effect of a real life situation.
André Øvredal has placed the audience in a vulnerable position and thus the film becomes a lot more shocking and impactful but it never takes itself too seriously. This film was only released in 2010 but the CGI is still amazing and that is equally matched by the great acting from the Norwegian leads.
Let the Right One In
This film is totally similar to Yakuza Apocalypse mostly because of the use of vampires. This charming yet sinister film portrays both the love and revenge a young, bullied boy finds within a very strange little girl. This film is made all the more sinister and creepy through the use of children as opposed to adults, creating a contrast between the innocence of a child and the mature theme of horror and vampires. This is all contrasted by the beauty of the relationship you see grow between these two young children and Tomas Alfredson (the director) seems to have captured that in the casting and his magnificent cinematography.
Released in 2000, director Kinji Fukasaku created the first Hunger Games, but with more blood and senseless killing. In keeping with the theme of bizarre Japanese horror; Battle Royale is a film in which a class of school students are forced to battle to the death until only one remains. This film, similarly to Let The Right One In, creates an eerie vulnerability, due to the sense of innocence we get from placing children in a very mature, and horrific situation. Battle Royale was so shockingly horrific that it was banned, or else excluded from distribution, in many countries because of the controversy it caused.
Marebito is very similar to Yakuza Apocalypse in the sense that it is another Japanese film about a blood drinking girl that the central character, Masuoka, finds in an underworld that is a labyrinth beneath the city. Takashi Shimizu has crafted many twists and turns throughout the narrative that ends in an unexpected turn of events, and is entirely strange and bizarre, heightening the suspense and fear that is created throughout the film. Again, this is a film from 2004 and yet seems to hold it’s credibility as a crazy and bloodthirsty thriller.
Yakuza Apocalypse will be released on 6 January 2016. You can pre-book your tickets for it here.