Overclocked On Caffeine v.1.1 2009-07-29 00:52:00

Tokyo Gore Police

110 minutes

Blood, blood, gallons of the stuff, give them all that they can drink and it will never be enough

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: in the far-off year of 20XX, the police force has been privatized, and they now run around with tactical samurai armour and Steyr Augs. At the same time, a new threat to mankind has arisen: the Engineers. Engineers are modified humans who can form weapons out of any wounds they suffer. As the film opens, our heroine, Ruka, hacks at her arm with a blade, before being called out to deal with the latest Engineer, a man swinging around a chainsaw. After the police shoot the weapon out of his hand (and the hand still holding it for that matter), it swiftly sprouts a new chainsaw, covered in gore and muscle, that’s also attached to another chain, allowing him to swing it around and launch it. Ten seconds later, he’s the only one left standing. That’s when Ruka shows up, and after a short battle, slices the Engineer in two, vertically, blood spraying from the wounds like a fire hose.

Now, did you, at any point, stop me there? No, of course you didn’t. That’s because Tokyo Gore Police isn’t like anything you’ve seen before.

In terms of themes and style, this is pretty close to the Tetsuo movies (Tetsuo: The Iron Man and its sequel, Bodyhammer). But while those were very dark, the cinematic equivalent of a panic attack in a car crusher, this is… well, calling it ‘light-hearted’ or saying its ‘played for laughs’ doesn’t work so well. It’s not a film that takes itself seriously, by any measure, which is probably why it can even remotely get away with anything it does. The Tetsuo movies were good, but way too hard going, grinding the viewer down as they watched. This is a film with its tongue so far in its cheek, it bursts out the other side and becomes a shotgun, maiming a family of three.

How weird does it get? Well, let’s see, remember Robocop or Starship Troopers? The fake TV ads? They’re in here, ranging from ads encouraging people to join the police, to the stylish and cute ‘Wrist Cutter G’ (‘makes the blood taste sweeter’, apparently), to the most violent Wiimote attachment ever, to… It’s difficult to tell if they’re trying to make some statement on Japanese culture and law enforcement, or if they just sat around drinking one afternoon going “You know what’d be cool?” Then again, even in Robocop, half the ads seemed more like one-shot gags, so if you’re going to steal, steal from the best.

Then there’s the mutations. Remember, this is a film where wounds = weapons. The guy with the chainsaw at the beginning? He’s smalltime. During one fight between Ruka and the big bad, she scores him across the face with her sword. So, he does what you’d expect anyone to do in this film and… no, I’m not spoiling that one for you, but the resulting weapon is definitely going to linger in your mind for a while. The body modification club/brothel, on the other hand, contains a dancer with a line of carpet staples across her breasts, another who’s become a snail woman, and a third who has altered her body so much, she’s become a chair. You read that right. It’s impressive in a way that, after all the tactical weirdness strikes assaulting you every other minute, seeing someone lactating acid barely even raises an eyebrow.

And then we have the violence. Hands up who’s seen Fist of the North Star? Any version will do. Or Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-Chan? Or Kill Bill, or Brain-Dead or anything like that? You know those moments where someone suffers a papercut, then, 5 seconds later (because there’s always a delayed reaction) the streets are running red and the wound’s spewing blood about a hundred feet in the air? That’s this film in a nutshell. If there’s even the slightest injury, it’ll bleed like a broken dam, to the point where Ruka’s actually pushed down a corridor by the force of one character’s injuries. Such high-pressure bleeding is even taken to its logical extreme in the final and oddly impressive moments of the film. As for the gore, well, imagine if the Power Rangers decided to go for an 18 cert with about half the budget. If papier mache and latex sprayed red gets your stomach churning, you might want to give this a miss. Otherwise, you’re probably going to be too busy laughing or rolling your eyes to notice.

In the end, Tokyo Gore Police is definitely a movie that lives up to its name. While other movies run on the Rule of Cool to get away with their more ludicrous stunts, TGP runs on the Rule of Sure Why Not. The police chief walks around everywhere with a pet gimp? Sure, why not. Random fight between a policewoman with a naginata and a schoolgirl with a boxcutter for an arm, neither of whom have had any significant screentime til now? Sure, why not. Woman turns herself into a chair? Sure, why not. After a while, it’s easier to just throw your hands up and say ‘y’know what, fine’ in an exasperated manner than call bullshit on anything. Tokyo Gore Police isn’t a film you watch for plot or story or anything mundane like that: you watch it, people explode, you go away wondering what the hell you just saw. Everyone needs to see something like that once in a while, and for that reason alone, this is probably mandatory viewing for most.

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