Tokyo Gore Police: “Once upon a time there was an engineer…”

Tokyo Gore Police directed by Yoshihiro Nishimura horror film reviewsTokyo Gore Police directed by Yoshihiro Nishimura

Tokyo Gore Police directed by Yoshihiro Nishimura horror film reviewsThose viewers who thought the pyrotechnic gore FX of Yoshihiro Nishimura in the 2001 cult item Suicide Club to be a bit too over the top may want to hold on to their seats and wrap themselves in a full-length rubber coverall as Tokyo Gore Police begins to unspool. Living up to its title in spades, this 2008 offering does indeed give us a look at the cops in Japan’s capital city in the near future, and ladles out more of the red stuff than The Wild Bunch, El Topo, The Evil Dead AND Dead Alive (four films once deemed the ne plus ultra of violence) put together … and then some!

In this film, Nishimura has developed the “human blood fountain” to a fine art, a concept that I believe Akira Kurosawa initially used to great shock effect at the tail end of 1962’s Sanjuro. Viewers with any sort of aversion to depictions of blood on screen must certainly be advised to look elsewhere, as Tokyo Gore Police most likely features more cc’s than any picture in cinema history.

In the film, the Tokyo police force has been privatized, and is indeed called the Tokyo Police Corporation. The main job of the company is fighting the human mutants known as Engineers, a hideous group whose keynote feature is their regrowth of actual weapons to replace any injured body part! (Yes, the picture does indeed feature elements of both Blade Runner and RoboCop in its truly mind-boggling story line.) One of the most skilled of the Engineer trackers is a beautiful young cop named Ruka (Eihi Shiina, who many will recall as the female lead in 1999’s Audition, a film that I have not mustered the courage to watch yet), who is haunted by the assassination of her father, also a cop, many years earlier. Before long, Ruka finds herself before “Keyman,” the scientific genius who has created the Engineers (in a memorable sequence, Keyman rips off the top of his own head, to reveal his naked brain, which promptly sprouts twin-barreled, hornlike bullet spitters!), and is vouchsafed some startling information regarding her own history…

I mentioned before that those who are easily queased out should probably skip this picture, but the truth is that the gore on display here is so completely over the top, so very cartoonish in quality, so stylized and UNrealistic, that it really did not bother this viewer … for the most part. Not that many scenes aren’t designed to stun and shock the audience. Thus, we get to see such sanguinary set pieces as a buzzing chain saw going into someone’s open mouth; a hooker/madam getting impaled down her throat; a subway freak chewing on bugs in delectable close-up; a rotary saw cutting off somebody’s fingers; a beautiful Engineer squirting green acid from her breasts and melting the face off of a female cop; the drawing and quartering of another female Engineer, and on and on. I describe these cartoonish gross-outs in detail because your reaction to them will in large part determine your fitness to appreciate this truly eye-popping film.

Take this unforgettable sequence, for example: A man goes into a rock club/bordello and engages a prostitute, who proceeds to service him orally. But the hooker happens to be an Engineer, who bites off the john’s, uh, John Thomas, turning the screaming dude into a human blood geyser! Keyman enters, and proceeds to power drill through the hapless guy’s leg. But the bloody john manages to shoot his way free, only to learn that the prostitute has transformed herself into a scurrying Venus flytrap of sorts! And don’t feel too badly for the emasculated customer; he soon returns as an Engineer himself, with a ghastly yard-long phallus … with a blasting gun at the end of it! Anyway, if this sounds like your cup of (very Red Zinger) tea, you might just have a bloody great time here; the film should prove to be absolute manna for all the gorehounds in the audience.

Tokyo Gore Police, hemoglobin aside, is a remarkable film for many reasons. The movie is ultrastylish throughout, excitingly directed by first-timer Nishimura, features fantastic use of color (lots of reds, of course), and contains a vibrant, dynamic score by Koh Nakagawa. The film looks sleek and flashy; can it really have been shot in just two weeks, as a certain Wiki site proclaims? As mentioned, it is at times completely over the top (such as Ruka’s final fight, which is so very over the top that it practically blasts into orbit!), and sporadically dishes out bits of welcome humor (such as those TV ads for the Police Corp., the wrist cutters and the sword of Kohka) throughout.

Perhaps best of all, though, is Eihi herself. It really is quite incredible to witness this gorgeous woman impassively slicing her victims with chain saw and samurai sword. She is remarkably cool, totally unflappable in the face of unbelievable carnage, and looks fantastic dressed in white blouse, black tie, miniskirt, boots and trench coat (surely, a hotter-looking outfit than the Darth Vader getups that her fellow cops sport!). With less than a few dozen lines of dialogue, she easily steals the film, despite the amazing visuals surrounding her. I have not even mentioned the six-barreled “fist cannon” or the female freak with swords instead of arms and legs, but I think you begin to get the idea.

Tokyo Gore Police surely is some kind of fantastic, unforgettable package. And the film looks great in its present DVD incarnation, too, from the always dependable Media Blasters’ Tokyo Shock series. You know, I think I might be ready for Audition now. If I can make it through Tokyo Gore Police, I should be ready for just about anything!


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SANDY FERBER, on our staff since April 2014 (but hanging around here since November 2012), is a resident of Queens, New York and a product of that borough's finest institution of higher learning, Queens College. After a "misspent youth" of steady and incessant doses of Conan the Barbarian, Doc Savage and any and all forms of fantasy and sci-fi literature, Sandy has changed little in the four decades since. His favorite author these days is H. Rider Haggard, with whom he feels a strange kinship -- although Sandy is not English or a manored gentleman of the 19th century -- and his favorite reading matter consists of sci-fi, fantasy and horror... but of the period 1850-1960. Sandy is also a devoted buff of classic Hollywood and foreign films, and has reviewed extensively on the IMDb under the handle "ferbs54." Film Forum in Greenwich Village, indeed, is his second home, and Sandy at this time serves as the assistant vice president of the Louie Dumbrowski Fan Club....

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6 comments

  1. I’m thinking I know at least two young women who could totally rock Ruka’s uniform as a Halloween costume.

    • Sandy Ferber /

      Can you send me their phone numbers?

      • No, Sandy, I won’t be doing that. Because I don’t want to have to explain to THEIR PARENTS why I had.

        • Sandy Ferber /

          Oh…sorry. I thought we were talking about women around the age of Eihi Shiina. Thanks for saving me from possible embarrassment….

  2. In case you’re curious, Sandy, I thought Audition was a lot like many of Takashi Miike’s other works — atmospheric and compelling right up until the last 30 minutes (or so) when it all goes off-the-wall gruesome and weird.

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