Movies: Tetsuo: The Bulletman

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2011-07-01 17:08:14 No comments

In my book, Shinya Tsukamoto can never completely stink. This is the man who gave us the original Tetsuo: The Iron Man, a film so deranged the first time I watched it I thought it was gonna melt inside my VCR all on its spontaneous own. But this is the third time he's been over this particular territory, which makes that ... what? First time tragedy, second time farce, third time sheer redundancy? I don't object to Tsukamoto remaking Tetsuo; what I object to is how in the process he somehow reduced the primal scream of the original into a mere cat's yowl.

The plot this time around borrows from pieces of Tetsuos 1 and 2: a half-American, half-Japanese man (Eric Bossick) with a Japanese wife and kid leads a happy life until the day a stranger (Tsukamoto, once again credited as "The Guy") runs over his son with his car. Dad's rage fuels his mutation into a giant walking metal scrapheap, and there are complications involving his own dad, his wife, a possible future baby on the way, his own genetic heritage, etc. The amazing experimental cinematography of the first film is now reduced to a mindless blur that looks like Tsukamoto pounding nails with the camera, and the visual callbacks to the original films — including a redux of the title sequence — play less like homage and more like someone who's just plain run out of ideas.

The biggest mistake is how Tsukamoto tries to assign an explanation or motive to everything. The whole charm of the original Tetsuo was its very raggedness and inexplicability. It wasn't supposed to make a lot of sense; it was just supposed to bite your face off and scream in your ear. Tetsuo: The Bullet Man is so mercilessly explicable it even has a happy ending. Even in the face of all this, I aver that Shinya Tsukamoto can still crowbar more sheer neurological overload into 75 minutes than most people manage in an entire trilogy.

Tags: Japan Shinya Tsukamoto movies review