English Title: Tokyo Gore Police
Country of Origin: Japan
Studio: Fever Dreams and Nikkatsu
Director: Yoshihiro Nishimura
Producer(s): Satoshi Nakamura, Yoko Hayama , Yoshinori Chiba
Screenplay: Yoshihiro Nishimura, Sayako Nakoshi , Kengo Kaji
Cinematographer: Shu G. Momose
Art Director: Nori Fukuda
Editor: Yoshihiro Nishimura
Runtime: 110 minutes
Genre: Horror/Science Fiction
Starring/Cast: Keisuke Horibe, Jiji Bu, Yukihide Benny, Itsuji Itao, Eihi Shiina
It’s sometime in the near future, and Japan’s police force has been transformed into a corporation. Ruka is a cop who specializes in hunting down and killing ‘engineers’, mutants who grow biological weaponry out of any wound or injury. The only way to kill them is to remove a key-like tumour that is found somewhere in their body. Ruka is tortured by the suicide of her mother and the murder of her father, who was a just and righteous police officer opposed to the corporatization of the police force, and she pursues his killer with relentless focus, epitomizing the alienation of the Japanese citizen, whose only connection to others is through violence.
Over the last few years, there has been a growing trend in Japanese cinema, as well as other Asian film industries, to create films with a certain international audience in mind. While the trend for overseas consumption has existed since the success of Akira Kurosawa, it has always been one with an emphasis on artistic integrity, creating films that would be popular with high brow audiences. The new trend, however, is to create genre films that will attract the obsessive cult fans. Takashi Miike was one of the forerunners of this new movement, after the success of films like Audition (1999) and Dead or Alive (1999). Tokyo Shock and Fever Dreams recently began producing Japanese films aimed specifically at Western audiences, despite the fact that they have little impact in their native country. The first of these was the bloody, tongue-in-cheek revenge tale The Machine Girl (2008) and the follow-up, Tokyo Gore Police, takes the splatter from the earlier films and blends it with social commentary, producing a surreal, subversive, blood bath. Although the plot could be played for laughs, director and co-screenwriter Yoshihiro Nishimura, the special effects mastermind behind The Machine Girl, as well as most of Sion Sono’s films, plays it dead serious. He adapts his short film Anatomnia Extinction (1995) into a Japanese hybrid of Robocop (1987), Blade Runner (1982), and Videodrome (1983). But to say it is merely an amalgamation of other films would not do it justice. With help from co-screenwriter Kengo Kaji, they drive much of their social commentary and satire with Verhoeven-inspired commercials, some directed by none other than The Machine Girl maestro Noboru Iguchi. There is no wink or nod to the audience in this film. While the film has obvious Western influences and is primarily aimed at a Western audience, it remains uniquely Japanese. Nishimura injects an Edogawa Rampo-esqe subversive spirit into the film, from the bizarre, urinating, living chair take to the strange, sadomasochistic perversions of the head engineer, known simply as the Key Man. Even though there are enough film references to make even the most jaded genre fans smile, great action choreography by Tak Sakaguchi transforms what could have been a psychedelic splatterfest into a brilliant, anarchistic tale of the corporatization of the modern urban landscape, whilst also pushing the very limits of what is deemed acceptable for celluloid. Penis guns, acid squirting breasts, living chain saw arms and real life maggot consumption are just a few of the delights awaiting the viewer. Verhoeven may have pushed the limits of American cinema when Robocop received the X-rating, but Nishimura pushes that envelope through the roof. It may be hard for most to see past the vast amounts of gore, that on first viewing will seem pointless and excessive, but if you can, you will experience a rewarding and original film filled with blood-soaked mayhem, that at the centre of it all, still has a heart and a soul.