2001, Well Go Pictures, 126 min, Japan, Dir: Takashi Miike

Adapted from an ultra-popular manga comic banned in several Japanese prefectures, ICHI is one of the funniest, most horrific, blood-drenched yakuza thrillers ever made (and director Miike’s most successful film in Japan to date). Nao Omori is Ichi, an immature crybaby who dons a black rubber superhero suit and hatchet blade boots to do the bidding of Shinya Tsukamoto (director of TETSUO: IRON MAN), an unassuming mastermind bent on rending the fabric of Shinjuku’s yakuza and destroying bleach-blond S&M freak/mobster Kakihara (Tadanobu Asano). Be forewarned, Ichi is an equal-opportunity assassin, and both men and women sacrifice body parts when they cross his path!

2015, Samuel Goldwyn Films, 125 min, Japan, Dir: Takashi Miike

Strap yourself in for one of the most outrageous and delirious assaults from Japan’s most beloved/demented auteur! YAKUZA APOCALYPSE opens in relatively straightforward fashion as local mob boss Kamiura (Lily Franky) shakes down criminals to keep his neighborhood safe. But Kamiura is a vampire mob boss with little regard for the rules of the international yakuza syndicate, and he enlists his protégée Kageyama (Hayato Ichihara) to help defend his turf. As the fighting and bloodsucking spiral out of control, the syndicate summons Modern Monster to squash the resistance. And that’s when things really go nuts, with bone-snapping action, slapstick comedy, stop-motion animation and man-in-a-suit monster mayhem pouring from the screen with glorious aplomb.

2011, 100 min, Japan, Dir: Takashi Miike

Little Rantaro comes from a long line of ninjas, so when he leaves the family farm to enter ninja school himself he is determined to master star-throwing, explosives, and rock-climbing. But Rantaro’s first-year class is so inept that the headmaster declares an early vacation and sends them all home. The youngsters nonetheless earn their stars when they are challenged by a rival clan and must race to ring the bell at a mountaintop temple to save the school. Brilliant in its excess and bursting with energy from the infectious young cast, the film is loaded with non-stop visual gags, dopey villains, adorable ninja trainees … and easily earns all three exclamation points in its title! Recommended Ages: 8 and up. In Japanese with English subtitles.

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