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Stylish gore fest turns to overkill
By Brian Offenther

MY second reaction to "Tokyo Gore Police" hovers around the thought that perhaps this film, with visuals that are disturbing, comedic, sexy and stylish, but most of all kinetic, is more truly cinematic than say, "Casablanca."

"Casablanca," after all, is easily adaptable into a radio drama (and was). Despite any misgivings about a paper-thin plot that Marvel Comics would find reductive at this point, and a lack of moral buoyancy that makes me shudder at a culture's collective psyche, "Tokyo Gore Police" is the summit of cinema, a piece of art that fulfills all its medium's most unique attributes.

My first reaction to "Tokyo Gore Police" is: "What in the world am I watching?"

"Tokyo Gore Police" takes place in the near future, when a privatized police force wearing modern samurai gear take on "engineers," madman criminals that have had their bodies weaponized. The exact nature of how a person will evolve is never explained, with one person perhaps growing an arm with a raptor like mouth attached to it, or another having gun barrels for eyes.

Enter our hero (played by Eihi Shinna), daughter of the police chief (Yukihide Benny), and an "engineer hunter" for the police. She is dressed in a variety of revealing outfits, including the inevitable schoolgirl uniform.

Although the movie has a distinct aesthetic, there are various homages to styles or even specific films.

They can be very specific, like the police coroner that is a clear tribute to the various "Igor" characters that act as Frankenstein's assistant in the various films that star his monster.

More subtle are nods to the stylish film noir of the 1940s, or Terry Gilliam's kinetic and disturbing dystopian visuals, or Sam Raimi's in-your-face low-grade gore-fests from the 1980s.

These references show that the movie, despite ostensibly being an exploitation flick, is done with care.

But even with a sense of history, some interesting stylistic touches, and as a bonus a fantastic, thundering score by Koh Nakagawa, the movie runs out of momentum.

When the film's modus operandi is to constantly outdo its last gross-out factor, and it starts with one of the most disturbing openings in film history, it can't help but grow slightly tiresome by its end.

Going along with my previous thought that "Tokyo Gore Police" is indeed the most cinematic of movies, it proves this film is almost an experiment. It's an interesting watch if you can stomach it, but some dilution is necessary for even the most open-minded viewers to truly enjoy.

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