Tokyo Gore Police
Yoshihiro Nishimura, Kengo Kaji, and Maki Mizui
Eihi Shiina as Ruka
Itsuji Itao as Keyman
Yukihide Benny as Tokyo Police Chief
Ikuko Sawada as Independent Bar Owner
By James “Crypticpsych” Lasome
In the near future, self-mutilation and cutting have not only become acceptable, but trendy (to the point where products are marketed to the cutting consumer and secret fetish bars exist showcasing the latest “modifications”). In this brave new world, the Japanese police force has been privatized into the Tokyo Police Corporation. Their primary goal is to exterminate “engineers”, people who, via genetic enhancements, are able to turn any injury into a weapon they may use to their advantage. The head engineer hunter, Ruka (Shiina, Audition), has never met a foe she can’t cut down, having been raised and trained into this role by the Chief of Police (Benny) after her father was ruthlessly murdered before her eyes when she was a child.
One night, a prostitute is found dismembered. The force immediately knows from evidence at the scene that an “engineer” is to blame, and Ruka goes undercover to hunt him down. When she crosses paths with him (Itao) in an abandoned building, she finds him far stronger than any she has ever faced. Just at the moment he is about to administer the finishing blow, though, she blacks out and comes to in a hospital room. Ruka becomes obsessed with him and the hidden knowledge of her past he professed to hold while she was in his clutches and sets about uncovering his hideout. But if she can find him, is she ready to learn the truth behind her father’s death, the engineer’s identity, and the true nature of the Corporation? And how will she respond when she does?
As straightforward as that plot synopsis of Tokyo Gore Police seems, nothing I could ever say could adequately explain the craziness of Tokyo Gore Police. To further explain, the following happen in the movie’s first 9 minutes. A hyper, sexily-dressed 911 dispatcher cheers the Corporation on. The Force fills a dual chainsaw-wielding criminal with rounds of ammo and blow off his arm. The man turns his arm wound into a chainsaw arm that he can fire off on a chain. Ruka grabs a bazooka out of the trunk of a police car and launches herself into the building with it. She “swordfights” the engineer’s arm with a chainsaw he originally dropped before his transformation. She chops his arm off during the battle, picks it up, and uses the two “chainsaws” to carve multiple pieces off him before grabbing her sword again and bisecting the engineer vertically from the top of his head through into his torso. Throughout this prologue, blood soaks the camera lens while Koh Nakagawa’s excellent score pounds away in the background like adrenaline coursing through Ruka’s and your veins.
Nishimura, prior to this primarily known as a make-up and effects wizard, basically takes every conception the viewer has ever had about what is possible in terms of gore, violence, and insanity in a movie and far exceeds it. The vast majority of the effects are done practically and are outstanding. Ever want to see a person become a hybrid of human and snail or a woman whose lower body becomes working alligator jaws? Check, and check. A man who, as a result of being turned into an engineer, is able to turn the wound from his severed penis into a giant gun that sprouts from his groin? Done. And that’s not even scratching the surface.
Truth be told, it would be perfectly acceptable to say “see this movie just for the effects”. The thing that makes Tokyo Gore Police so outstanding, though, is that Nishimura was smart enough to back the violence and insanity up with great actors and an engaging story that balances action, tension, and a fair amount of dark humor. Every performance is great in this, but Eihi Shiina deserves special mention. In one performance, Shiina’s Ruka runs the gamut from completely emotionless, to dogged determination, to unstoppable force of vengeance hitting every note perfectly and easily creating one of the best, most likeable female action heroes ever.
Storywise, admittedly, Nishimura’s masterpiece Tokyo Gore Police is only lightly horror. That little bit comes from the main Engineer stalking victims and killing prey. Even when that isn’t present though, the viewer still feels some semblance of tension and dread from the atmosphere and the story itself so that they’re always on the edge of their seat waiting for the next plot twist or insane gore effect. Nishimura also wisely adds in bits of dark humor (in addition to the fact that every injury is an arterial spray) that include fake commercials such as products for the cutter demographic and recruitment videos for the Force. Those, plus a great scene in which Ruka runs into a subway molester while undercover as a prostitute, help to give the viewer a break from the dark story itself and give the overall work a very light sense of whimsy at times that prevents it from going TOO far off the deep end or taking itself too seriously.
Tokyo Gore Police is a perfect example of a film that is entirely within its own multi-hyphenate genre. It defies description and categorization and exists outside the box in a gory, well-written, well-acted grey area of originality and brilliance. It may not be fully horror, but it most certainly is fully entertaining and definitely worth your time.