Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tokyo Gore Police (2008)

If you have the balls to put “gore” in your film’s title, you better be prepared to live up to your audacity! With that thought, I popped Tokyo Gore Police into my DVD player, not expecting to be overwhelmed with a maelstrom of morbidity that my eyes hadn’t seen since…well, it had been a while. Yet, there I was – feeling queasy and getting ready to pray to the porcelain god for forgiveness that I had questioned the grue quotient of Tokyo Gore Police. I quickly discovered that “gore” was too tame a word to have in its title…and that I would be hard-pressed to find something a word to describe its cartoonish yet no-less-hurl-worthy avalanche of blood and guts.

In the future, Tokyo’s privatized police force is facing their biggest threat yet, something they call “engineers,” which are humans who are able mutate parts of their bodies into fleshy weapons. Ruka (Eihi Shiina, best known for her role in Takashi Miike’s Audition) is head of the police force’s elite engineer hunting squad and specializes in chopping up offenders with her samurai sword. She is also haunted by her father’s assassination and is out for revenge against whoever killed him. As Ruka cuts a bloody swath through Tokyo, simultaneously searching for her father’s killer as well as the one who created the engineers, the elusive Key Man, she doesn’t realize that the killer is closer than she thinks…and that she might have more in common with the engineers than her beloved police force.

Tokyo Gore Police plays like an over-the-top comic book. It’s flooded with bright colors, unbelievable villains and a kick ass heroine. It definitely lives up to the “gore” in its title. The film is a tsunami of blood, flooding each scene with wave after wave of the red stuff. There is also plentiful gore (not surprising since the director of this flick is none other than special effects genius Yoshihiro Nishimura, who was behind the special FX in The Machine Girl and Meatball Machine, with heads being popped open, human flesh being hacked into indiscernible pieces, people split in two, people morphing into mutants with chainsaws, guns, knives and even crocodile jaws as deadly appendages, boobs shooting out killer acid, penises as well as eyes turning into guns and so on and so on. The effects were all cartoonishly realistic and darn it if I didn’t begin to feel queasy after a little while! This is definitely one of the most gruesome and stomach-churning horror films I’ve seen in quite some time!

The storyline was pretty transparent, but it served its purpose well enough. The real focus of the film is of course the gore and carnage, but the story itself keeps you pretty interested. Plus, Ruka is one hot badass, so you have her to root for the entire time. I really thought the commercials and recruitment videos sprinkled throughout the film were pretty clever! I especially liked the ad that made suicide trendy and offered razor blades for cutting yourself in several different stylish colors! I thought these were clever stabs at consumerism and the privatization of government agencies.

My only problems with the film were several strange shots that slowed the pace of the film to a crawl and seemed to serve only as filler (filler was not needed…the movie is overly long at almost two hours). There were a few too many slow motion shots that just went on for too long and didn’t really serve a purpose. Case in point, in the scene where Ruka cuts the hands off an overly handsy train commuter, she pops her parasol to protect her from the rain of blood and the film tracks her as she walks towards the camera…and tracks…and tracks….and tracks some more. Thirty pointless seconds at least could have been edited from this scene, and there are several others like this that bog down the action.

When the action remains unmarred, though, it is a whirlwind of vicious destructiveness! I’ve already spoken highly of the gore, and the fight scenes are wicked as well. The scenes that feature Ruka and other police officers fighting the various engineers are thrilling, bloody affairs. The engineers are twisted, perverted creations – take the one scene set in an S&M club where engineers are the entertainment – one girl has stapled boobs, the other has been turned into a snail-like creature, another has a long, phallic nose and another has been turned into a flat, chair-like creation that pisses over everyone in the audience. Another engineer’s lower body turns into crocodile jaws, giving a whole new meaning to the term “vagina dentata,” while a male engineer sprouts a penis-gun. There are more and more insane creations in the film, many that you have to see for yourself to believe!

If you’re interested in a title like Tokyo Gore Police, you better be expecting tons of grue because that’s exactly what you get with this film! The blood splatter alone, with many, many shots of high-pressure arterial sprays that drench everything in their path – including the camera – would be enough to make this film a bloody cult classic, but it’s the inventive, gut-churning gore that really sets it apart. Except for a few flaws in pacing and editing, Tokyo Gore Police is a must-see for gorehounds everywhere!

Available from Amazon!

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