While I’ve seen a couple of his movies, I’d definitely not claim to be an expert on all things Miike, and also wouldn’t count myself among his fans. Maybe if you followed his long and illustrious career, you’ll love this. To me, however, it felt like a jumbled mess of the “lets throw everything against the wall and see what sticks”-variety, and even though for a while, it kinda worked, ultimately it mostly fell apart for me.
It all starts off quite nicely. Miike shows is this world that’s controlled by the Yakuza, which in turn is led by Kamiura, who gets an introduction that makes him look like the uber-badass. Shot, stabbed and grievously injured, he nevertheless survives, gets home and even has the stamina to bang his lover. They then go ahead and introduce us to this world, and show us how Kamiura is respected, beloved and feared by the Yakuza, the public and his enemies alike. There are also a couple of funny, original and crazy ideas and scenes, like the knit-club, which – since at first, they are used sparingly, and don’t swamp the movie (yet) – worked quite well for me. Later on, the reason for Kamiura’s resilience is explained: He’s a vampire. However, his enemies (with some help by traitors in his own organization) send a vampire hunter, and Kamiura dies in the arms of his youngest protégé, Kageyama – but not before giving him his vampire-powers. It’s a promising start, followed by a fine middle part, but ultimately, the crazy ideas take over the movie completely.
You’re got the bitten civilians who turn in some sort of zombie-vampires, the vampire hunters, a legendary fighter who turns out to be a man (?) in a frog costume, a woman who constantly loses brain fluid, an attempt to grow civilians by planting them, and ultimately – like the title suggest – it all leads to the end of the world. For a while, this hodgepodge of ideas worked, thanks to an interesting and well-played lead character I was quite invested in, some nice action beats, and my interest in what Miike would come up with next. Sooner rather than later, however, it all was too much, up to the point where nothing could surprise me anymore, since everything – no matter how crazy – seemed possible. It’s further hurt by a rather run-of-the-mill romance that never really grabbed me, a couple of exaggerated characters that I didn’t feel any connection with, and most of all an incredibly disappointing showdown that deteriorates to an unimaginative slapping contest that was boring, pointless, and overlong. And while I can’t condemn it completely, mostly thanks to its strong, promising beginning, some cool action scenes and a couple of crazy-funny ideas, it nevertheless proved to be yet another disappointment at this years /slash Filmfestival.