FANTASIA Report: TOKYO GORE POLICE Review
The near future. Tokyo's police force has been privatized, the new private force authorized to execute justice on the spot. The officers are both hated and feared but are a necessity in a world plagued by 'engineers', mutant creatures that generate powerful weapons from any significant wound on their body meaning that they become more dangerous the more that you fight against them. The only way to stop an engineer is to cut out a strange key-shaped tumor that exists somewhere within each one of them, a task that falls to specialized sword wielding hunters within the police force. And the leading hunter on the force is Ruka - played by Audition's Eihi Shiina - a beautiful, self destructive woman plagued by memories of her suicidal mother and slain father who has brought down fifty engineers to date.
From the same team that created The Machine Girl, Tokyo Gore Police is quite likely the most aptly titled film ever made. The thing is positively saturated with blood, massive sprays of the stuff filling frame after frame of the film. With its over the top effects and massive levels of splatter this thing is destined to become a classic among fans of the genre. Like Machine Girl the effects are pleasingly squishy, based on real world latex prosthetics rather than CGI, and wildly inventive. Where the two films part ways, however, is in the basic approach to the material. While Machine Girl plays out largely tongue in cheek, Tokyo Gore Police takes its world very seriously. There is no nodding and winking here, instead director Yoshihiro Nishimura sets out to create a sort of alternate future where these events, bizarre as they may be, actually make some sort of sense. The end result is a sort of nightmare fugue, a swirling hallucination that just plunges farther and farther into depravity as it proceeds.
No doubt about it, Nishimura's effects are what will draw most to the film but what holds it all together is Shiina's performance. A strange, otherworldly sort of presence, Shiina is one of the more distinctive and compelling actors working in Japan today and doesn't appear on screen nearly often enough. With a lesser performer at its heart Tokyo Gore Police would descend into camp but Shiina makes perfect sense here and gives the whole thing a strange sort of legitimacy. She works well as an action heroine - fight scenes are well choreographed by Versus' Tak Sakaguchi - but more important are the self destructive urges that run throughout her character, her own life mirroring the tone of the Japan of the film.
Laced with sly social commentary - the television ads selling 'cute' wrist slicing knives and anti-hari kiri PSA's are brilliant - and a surprisingly good cast Tokyo Gore Police has goals far beyond being a simple splatter picture. Nishimura clearly has something to say and, low budget or no, his fusion of extreme violence of political satire can't help but bring to mind Verhoeven's Robocop and Starship Troopers. The extreme visuals alone make Tokyo Gore Police a must for splatter fans, the added depth makes it a classic of the type. Definitely recommended.