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Reviews 31 Days of Horror X

Tokyo Gore Police

Tokyo Gore Police

Tōkyō Zankoku Keisatsu

Yoshihiro Nishimura

Japan, 2008

Credits

Review by Leo Goldsmith

Posted on 30 October 2013

Source Nikkatsu DVD

Categories 31 Days of Horror X

Tokyo Gore Police begins almost immediately with a head exploding. This is a sufficiently auspicious opening for a film called Tokyo Gore Police and, as the exploding head is that of a policeman, immediately announces that this film will have something to do with the police, will take place in Tokyo, and will feature a tremendous quantity of gore. It should be noted, however, that despite the impressiveness of this particular head explosion – which is certainly as accomplished as the similar cerebral combustion in David Cronenberg’s Scanners – and despite the fact that it manages to splatter the camera with bloody chunks of skull and flesh, it is nonetheless among the least gory parts of a movie that seems to take as its subject, even its fetish, the relentless dicing-up and splattering-around of bodies—human, mutant, and otherwise.

It is the future, and, as most futures go, pretty standard: the police force has been privatized and reconfigured, Judge Dredd-style into a merciless, privatized army of sadists called the Tokyo Police Corporation, whose no-prisoners approach allows the city’s residents to lead “more plentiful lives” (or so say their TV ads). And perhaps this sadism is welcome, as humanity seems to face a formidable new enemy – the engineers – genetically warped individuals who, because of a mysterious key-shaped tumor, are able to remodel bodies into ferocious murder-machines by sprouting weapons from their wounds. So, a hand becomes a chainsaw, breasts spew flesh-eating acid, a woman’s machine-gunned legs become a giant set of gaping, toothy jaws, a penis becomes a penis-gun, and so forth. And it is Ruka, the film’s heroine and TPC’s star “engineer hunter,” wearing an outfit that makes her look something like a leather-clad Japanese schoolgirl armed with a samurai sword, to defeat them in the only way possible: through maximum puréeing of the offending, infected flesh.

Of course, much of the film is spent trying to discern the source of this mysterious tumor, and while Ruka is for the most part pretty sanguine about her job – earning her “Heaven’s Punishment” badge, celebrating her birthday with her TPC colleagues, chopping off the hands of a guy who gropes her on the subway as an apt form of punishment for the crime of molestation – we soon learn that she has issues of her own: specifically some daddy issues and a tendency to slash up her arm with an Exact-o knife.

Of course, these issues are bound up in the plot, which manages a certain Ghost in the Shell-level narrative opacity involving conspiracies-within-conspiracies, but one doesn’t exactly seek out a film like Tokyo Gore Police to enjoy the witty storyline. Rather, the concept serves as a convenient hat-rack on which to hang an array of plastic-y prosthetics and none-too-convincing digital effects, all serving to convey an endlessly chunky torrent of gore. On offer is every conceivable sort of slashing, squishing, shooting, severing, segmenting, slurping, sawing, shredding, and stabbing: a penis is bitten off, a chainsaw is inserted into someone’s mouth, faces are ripped off, fingers severed, and lots of people are vertically halved by Ruka’s sword (or quartered, or eighthed, or sixteenthed). Director Yoshihiro Nishumura – who boasts the wonderful credit of “Special Effect Director & Gore Effects & Creature Design & Edited & Directed by” – sets himself the unique challenge of upping the ante, devising more ways to chiffonade the human body.

He rises admirably to this challenge, and along the way infuses the film with an operatic level of excess and derangement infrequently seen in films not made in Japan. The entire film is rendered in frenetic, half-comprehensible, angle-canted madness, complete with myriad unmotivated interruptions. Throughout, a sexy-bubbly announcer summarizes plot points that don’t need summarizing, and, as in Robocop, TV spots break in spastically: a graphic, intestine-spewing PSA against seppukku, and ads for a Wii-like remote execution game and the hot new fad among teenage girls: wrist cutting (“It’s cute! … When you cut it doesn’t hurt that much!”).

All of this culminates in a citywide police rampage, aimed at anyone who seems even a little bit off, orchestrated by the evil, gimp-toting police chief, and carried out by the TPC’s gaggle of goofy, over-zealous cops. This leaves Ruka, now herself infected with the evil tumor at odds with all things psychotic and corrupt – that is, everyone else – in an orgy of gore that leaves her with her very own gooey set of enhanced limbs and lethal prosthetics. Perhaps, as in Videodrome, there is a certain joy to be had in this New Flesh, even a certain utopian possibility?

This is a prospect explored further in Tokyo Gore Police’s sister film, 2008’s Machine Girl (directed by partner-in-gore Noboru Iguchi), and will undoubtedly find its way into its forthcoming sequel (heralded by the ending title-card, “More Gore Coming Soon!”). For its part, however, Tokyo Gore Police is content with a simpler, low-concept shock-and-splatter strategy, one to be viewed late at night in a crowded theater.

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