Tetsuo II: Body Hammer

on August 15, 1997 by Karen Achenbach
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   Along with his directing, writing, cinematography, art direction and editing duties, Shinya Tsukamoto also co-stars in his aptly named film ("Tetsu" = iron; "o" = man) about humans who transform themselves into metal (here, guns). In this 1991 Toshiba EMI/Kaiyju production, a reworking of Tsukamoto's 1989 "Tetsuo: Iron Man" (same cast and concept, different plot and setting), a gang of mutant skinheads chase a Japanese salaryman (punk music superstar Tomoroh Taguchi) through dark, fragmented shots--stunning for making Tokyo appear empty as well as for posing small human bodies against the infinite webs of glass and steel that cities have become.
   Color gels add to the controlled visual effect, as does Chu Ishikawa's punk-industrial score. But interest in the story doesn't penetrate until the movie's final third, when numerous plot revelations up the tempo. As in "The Incredible Hulk" tales, rage is a trigger; here, it causes the eruption of guns from the salaryman's body, like huge barnacles on a sea creature. But in the intelligent and experimental "Tetsuo II" it's not simply done for the thrills. Starring Tomoroh Taguchi, Nobu Kanaoka and Shinya Tsukamoto. Directed and written by Shinya Tsukamoto. Produced by Fuminori Shishido and Fumio Kurokawa. A Manga release. SF. Japanese-language; English subtitles. Unrated. Running time: 83 min
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