What’s great about a title like Tokyo Gore Police is that it is very clear about the kind of movie you are going to experience. Still, there is no way to truly wrap your mind around this film without watching it for yourself and even then, the uninitiated will be left baffled at what they have witnessed. To those I say “Welcome to Japanese Splatter Cinema, motherfuckers!”
The film takes place in a world where some criminals, known as “Engineers”, have remodeled their bodies to turn into ferocious monstrosities. Any time an Engineer is found, it is the job of the police force’s most elite Engineer hunter Ruka (Eihi Shiina) to dispense her own brand of brutal justice on them. When a powerful Engineer known as Key Man (Itsuji Itao) starts brutally killing women around Tokyo, it’s up to Ruka to not only try and track him down but also uncover the mystery of her father’s murder that may or may not be connected.
While some might be incredibly repulsed by the extreme violence of films like this, I on the other hand find it’s astounding levels of bizarre and depraved brutality incredibly refreshing. In a world where you constantly hear about films having to be cut down by the fucking MPAA (and other such arbiters of subjective morality) to get an R rating, it’s great to see examples of films that are made with absolutely no concern for being “marketable” for a wide release.
It should be noted however that this is a very different experience from the mean-spirited gore of Torture Porn films like Grotesque. I’m not saying one style is better than the other, this is simply a different approach to extreme cinema that portrays the violence in an over-the-top, cartoonish fashion, typical of Japanese Splatter films. This actually allows the film to maintain a more lighthearted feeling while simultaneously bombarding you with insane levels of violence in a world where anything can happen. Blood geysers from severed limbs can propel people like rockets, disembodied hands that strangle are shot like bullets, alligator heads grow from severed torsos and so much more!
This all makes for an incredibly entertaining viewing experience, which is certainly not surprising. What may actually be surprising to some however is that such an over-the-top film can also handle the transition to scenes with more serious subject matter as well. Scenes of civilian genocide actually carry a legitimate emotional weight and the film as a whole is filled with sharp commentary on authoritarian control, consumer culture, and our own inherent desire for violence. In addition to this, the characters themselves are well crafted with complex motivations and storylines rather than a simplistic portrayal of good versus evil.
I was also impressed by the all too rare use of a legitimately strong female lead. Ruka is solemn, calculating, driven and exudes an authentic strength without ever falling into the hackneyed Hollywood portrayal of an in-your-face-tough-girl. She’s an all around badass that doesn’t fuck around and won’t hesitate to chop your hands off if you grab her ass on the subway. This is yet another stellar performance by Shiina who is also well known for her work on other brilliantly twisted Japanese films like Audition and Helldriver.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that there are times when the seams show a little on the production and the special effects don’t always stick the landing but really these couple of hiccups just add to the campy and surreal fun of the film. Those looking for an incredibly creative, utterly twisted, fast-paced mind-fuck of Asian insanity need look no further and if you still have yet to plunge into the world of Japanese Splatter Cinema this is a hell of a good place to start.
Pingback: Sick Flix: Tokyo Gore Police (2008) - Psycho Drive-In