Wednesday, September 24, 2008

FANTASTIC FEST : TOKYO GORE POLICE

One of the major themes of Fantastic Fest 2008 is the celebration of Japanese Pinku cinema. These were (and still are as evidenced by last year's Uncle's Paradise) films that used the cover of conventional storytelling to smuggle in erotic themes and imagery. This same sneaky pathway to perverted expression can be applied to some of J-Splatter's more artfully adventurous films, most notably Yoshihiro Nishimura's Tokyo Gore Police.

The plot of Tokyo Gore Police - the city's police force has been privatized and martial law is imminent; meanwhile, a gang of "engineered" (ie mutant) criminals are wreaking havoc - can be tossed aside, because the real purpose here is to let Nishimura flesh out his nutso daydreams and doodles. This is clear when the script pretty much puts itself on pause for a spectacular twenty minute underground sex-club sequence which reaches past the ceiling of surreal when a living flesh chair is brought out on stage to pee on an overeager audience.

From here we move to a scene where an engineered woman's legs turn into the jaws of a crocodile, thus making her vagina - yes - the swallowing throat of a ferocious reptile. Don't be offended ladies, Nishimura takes a dig the at the men as well when he turns a engineered man's penis into a giant canon that shoots lethal shrapnel out of its tip. Of course, none of this lunacy, blood, and tearing of flesh would work had Tokyo Gore Police not been so cartoonishly absurd in its presentation. I don't think it's too far reaching to compare Nishimura's film to the work of cult artists like John Waters, Frank Henenlotter, or the "lighter" side of Japanese peer Takashi Miike.

Calling Tokyo Gore Police "over-the-top" would require having to retire that cliche and inventing a completely new phrase to describe something which goes beyond the limits of even the most whacked-out gonzo horror fan. The only equivalent I can think of is Peter Jackson's Dead Alive. Jackson's film and effects are more elaborate, but consider that Nishimura made his film within the confines of a two week schedule and, I'm guessing, with much less money than Jackson had to work with.

Tokyo Gore Police is overlong, and by films end you feel fatigued by the onslaught of slapstick debauchery and firehose bloodletting. Nishimura is still learning. He doesn't have the directorial or emotional chops to rival his make-up/effects wizardry. Despite the grand effects, some of TGPs camera work reaches the level of irritation that crap such as X2: X-Men United and Greengrass's Bourne movies gave the world. Also, some of Nishimura's humor feels more mean-spirited than funny and his social observations beg for more wisdom.

Still, as a first film, Tokyo Gore Police is promising, and it literally promises more, when in bright bold letters preceding the end credits it says "MORE GORE COMING SOON!...".

4 comments:

Jason Bellamy said...

Thank you, Fox! Seeing this movie so that I don't have to! (Not that I planned to...because I'm not hip on the genre.)

Wow, sometimes describing a film and critiquing it are the same thing, if you know what I mean. Anyway, you did both perfectly. Love the "over-the-top" observation.

Fox said...

Thanks, Jason.

If there are any other movies you'd like me to screen for you just e-mail me the titles! :0)

However, if you do decide to jump into Japanese Splatter one day, just let me know and I will do my best to send you an "essentials" list.

Jason Bellamy said...

It's like watching "Dirty Jobs." I think it's best if I experience the genre vicariously through you. Something tells me, it's more entertaining from afar, for my tastes anyway.

Rick Olson said...

Cool! Snail girl. I like snail girl. It's the head-foot that turns me on the most ...