"Yakuza Demon," by director Takashi Miike is a very good film. My only gripe with the film was the ending. However, since this is a violent world these men of the yakuza live in, then I can understand why the film ended the way it did. Other than that, I thought this was a very good film: definitely above average. The film starts out with a minor mob boss named Muto (Kaichi Iwaki) flying a Japanese Zero in an open field. Not far away, are his two trusted men. Seiji (Riki Takeuchi) and Yoshifumi (Hideki Sone). They are all part of a poor yakuza brotherhood, which is under the control of a larger clan known as the Date family. We see the boss Muto eating his noodles in what appears to be a run down home. Yet he has pride. When a rival gang shoots up one of the Date clans branches--the others in the organization require money to make a hit. The interaction between Muto and the other leaders of the clan are a bit hilarious. He has no money to help contribute to their latest request, therefore, they tell him if he does not have the money they can always take his wife. To which he responds that she has left him.
Muto is a humble man, yet, because of the honor of the clan, and due to the fact he has no money to contribute, he tells the other brothers of his clan that he will make a hit on a middle yakuza of the opposing clan known as the Tendo family, which made the hit on them. However, Seiji, who is also known as 'Sinji the Ripper' wants to do this for the boss--even though he has already been in jail for a long time for another transgression. However, the leader Muto tells him that he will do the hit, as it is not right for Seiji to go back to jail again. Yet something happens, which changes things for this poor yakuza clan. Seiji decides to protect his boss, and in doing so he makes a hit on a major leader of the Tendo clan. This spells doom for his own Date clan. For while the Date clan has several men, they do not have as large an outfit as the Tendo family. With his own brotherhood of yakuza leaving him high and dry, Seiji and his close yakuza brother Yoshifumi find themselves battling an organization of 15,000 men.
This is not a violent film, in regards to a yakuza narrative, and especially from Miike's usual standard of film making. All of the characters in the film give simple, yet nuanced performances in this film. And especially actor Riki Takeuchi--who has made a score of films with over-the-top performances. In this film he is more subdued, and the film moves at a slower pace. Yes, there are the occasional action scenes. But you will not find the bizarre character portrayals in the actors that one finds in most of Miike's films. This is a more quiet and reserved film. As the Tendo clan seeks out Seiji, who was responsible for the hit on a major yakuza player, he seeks help from no one but himself. With just a few friends to help him out, we see a departure from the typical yakuza film by Miike. Will the Tendo family finally track Seiji down? Or will Seiji heed the advice of friends and leave Japan? Moreover, will his brothers in the Date family finally help out? The is an above average to good yakuza film by Miike, and is recommended. Rent it first. [Stars: 3.5]