Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Tokyo Gore Police Review

Tokyo Gore Police (2008)

One of modern Japan’s whackiest pieces of cinema, Tokyo Gore Police does everything it says on the ‘tin’. It’s set in Tokyo, it’s about the police and it has massive amounts of GORE!! As I stated in my Ichi the Killer review, Japanese cinema has recently focused on transferring styles and stories from ‘manga’ to the big screen. And Tokyo Gore Police, though not based on a manga, follows the recent trend and successfully goes beyond. The film is set in a the chaotic future, where a mad scientist, Key Man, has crafted a virus that mutates the citizens of Tokyo into monsters called ‘Engineers’. The police force has been privatised and has crafted a new special force known as the ‘Engineer Hunters’. These officers are very much like the ‘Judge Dredds’ of Japan, carrying samurai swords to dish out their own violent brand of justice. The film focuses on one of the infamous ‘Engineer Hunters’, Ruka (Eihi Shiina), and her personal mission to find the killer of her father. The plot is very basic, and doesn’t really require much attention. It was easy to forget that there was a ‘story’, in amongst the piles of dismembered bodies and gallons blood, as it is clear that this was the focus of the film.
The acting is very average. Eihi Shiina, famous for her brilliant performance in Audition, is the best member of the cast. But that isn’t saying much in a film with a man with a turret on his head or a guy with a ‘penis’ as a gun. She plays the role relatively well, but doesn’t bring anything memorable to her character. The same goes for the other actors and actresses, names are forgettable and they have no real personality. The other exception is Key Man (Itsujo Itao), but that is primarily because of the outlandish, stereotypical depiction of a wacky scientist. 
Overall, Tokyo Gore Police isn’t for everyone. The disturbing, violent and perverse nature of the film will put many people off. But the status of ‘most gory film of recent cinema’ will attract an audience. However, if you’re looking for a well or at least some developed plot and characters, look elsewhere. Yoshihiro Nishimura, clearly didn’t care about crafting a great story or memorable characters, but focused his attention on the action and gore. While the action is entertaining, it's nothing new or ground-breaking. Nishimura has clearly taken influence from the likes of David Cronenberg’s Robocop and Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers. The blend of violence and comedy, and the random humorous ‘advert’ segments are present. But the film feels as if each scene has to out-shock the previous one. So from ‘simply’ decapitations, we eventually end up with a ‘human chair’. I certainly had a difficult time really enjoying this even though I have been accustomed to gory films such as Peter Jackson’s Brain Dead  (or Dead Alive) and Takeshi Miike’s Ichi the Killer. There was nothing that produced a reaction other than 'WTF!!', but with the title Tokyo Gore Police what do you expect? Saying that, the film has been well received by critics and will no doubt gain ‘cult’ status later on in its lifetime. It’s stupid, bloody, over-the-top, bizarre and ‘watchable’.

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