By MARC McDONALD
Recently, I popped this 2008 cult film into my DVD player, not really expecting much. From the box, it appeared to be yet another Japanese film based on a manga graphic novel (which I generally don't find that entertaining--save the odd exception, such as the classic Battle Royale). In any case, I watch loads of Japanese films, as I'm learning the language.
As the opening credits rolled, I was a bit bored and distracted. But five minutes into the movie, Tokyo Gore Police had my complete and full attention. I was stunned at what I was seeing. I've seen a lot of Japanese horror films and a lot of blood-soaked gorefests. But this eye-popping film takes it to another level.
Tokyo Gore Police has the ability to shock even those who are jaded and think they've "seen it all." It's incredibly bloody and violent---maybe the most gory movie ever made. By contrast, the films of Takashi Miike seem tame.
And it reminded me, once again, why I am a huge fan of Japanese cinema. Whereas today's Hollywood movies are dull, predictable and follow tiresome rules, you never know what to expect with a Japanese movie. Just when you think you've got the plot all figured out, some totally unexpected development will come out of left field to surprise you.
Do you think critics' darling Quentin Tarantino is radical, cutting-edge and dangerous? If so, watch Tokyo Gore Police. It makes Tarantino look like the over-rated, predictable bore that he really is.
Tokyo Gore Police stars the dazzlingly beautiful Eihi Shiina, who also appeared in Miike's classic, Audition. She plays a ruthless cop on the beat in a violent Tokyo of the future who relentlessly goes after bizarre, murdering monsters called "Engineers." There's a bit of Blade Runner in this film, as well as some Paul Verhoeven-style social commentary. In fact, I'm sure Verhoeven would approve of the over-the-top violence.
Throughout Tokyo Gore Police, the film takes potshots at the relentless IMF-style pressuring of nations worldwide to privatize anything and everything. In this case, the Tokyo police are privatized.
Although Japanese culture and social commentary can be alien and difficult to fathom, I'd like to at least think the film is satirizing the IMF "free market" policies that brought devastation to many East Asian economies in 1997. Personally, I'd like to see Shiina take her lethal sword to the Chicago School/Milton Friedman disciples who've been responsible for so much heartache and suffering across the planet, with their misguided deregulation schemes.
And there is blood. Lots and lots of blood.
If you like horror, blood & guts and bizarre cinematic surrealism, along with a dose of subversive social commentary, be sure to check Tokyo Gore Police out.
Tokyo Gore Police (Japanese title: 東京残酷警察).
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