Today’s selection: Tetsuo the Bullet Man (2009, dir. Shinya Tsukamoto)
Subgenre: Body Horror, Kaijin
Available from: MPI
I already wrote about this movie years ago for a previous ‘blog, so I’ll just copy-and-paste:
The Bullet Man is the second reworking of Shinya Tsukamoto’s most famous work (that being 1989’s Tetsuo, the Iron Man), after Tetsuo 2: Body Hammer (1992), and with each iteration the films seem to get a little more coherent and mainstream. Keep in mind where the franchise started, though, because otherwise you might make the mistake of thinking that Bullet Man wasn’t totally freaking demented; I believe chud.com gave it a “? out of 10”.
The story is of Anthony, and American businessman living in Japan, with his wife, son, and father (for some reason), so the movie’s mostly in English. It’s in color, too, but that’s to be expected after the second film. Anthony’s son Tom is murdered by “The Guy” (Shinya Tsukamoto, though not necessarily the same Guy as the other films), and distraught, Anthony begins gradually turning into a giant hulk of metallic nightmare-fuel. Unlike, say, the first film, all of this is explained, because his father was actually a mad scientist on the “Tetsuo Project”, a government program to create android weapons (and give us stills of the iconic makeup from the first film). The dad knocked one of their fembots up, so Anthony and Tom had “android DNA” (since we don’t go into specifics, it’s not quite as silly as it sounds), making them a target for MIBs to sweep under the rug. The Guy tries to kill Anthony not out of loyalty to government, however, but because that’s how he gets his jollies (it’s Tsukamoto, after all), and it won’t be over until Anthony gets revenge…but will it be over after that? The end is a bit ambiguous. Also, Tokyo blows up, but that doesn’t seem to have much impact on the proceedings.
The camerawork is shaky and frenetic (par for the course), so I actually got motion sick watching on my computer. The special effects are probably the best of any of the films, though Anthony gets stuck in one form for a long stretch of the movie without any transformations, and the design for that one wasn’t that interesting; it just sort of reminded me of Briareos from Appleseed. The early hints of transformation are great, however, as is the final form Anthony takes, so it more than balances out. I hear there’s already a Bullet Man action figure; I hope they do plushies next.
As for the music, it’s the same composer as the other two films (with the exception of a newly created track by Nine Inch Nails), so it’s exactly the pounding industrial beats that one would expect, no, demand, from a Tetsuo flick; no doubt this is another soundtrack destined to worm its way into my mp3 playlists. The pulsing rhythm is perfect to set the mood for something really disturbing while simultaneously bringing back nostalgia for the first film… man, if Tetsuo the Iron Man is making me feel warm and fuzzy, something must really be wrong!