Tokyo Gore Police
(Tokyo zankoku keisatsu) (2008)
Directed by Yoshihiro Nishimura

Artistic Value: * * * *
Entertainment Value: * * * * *

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Sometime in the near future, criminals known as 'engineers,' who, thanks to a mysterious key shaped tumor found in the body of each, are able to regrow any wounded body part into some kind of weapon, are terrorizing Tokyo. Ruka (Eihi Shiina), an officer of the city's now privatized police force, and an expert at hunting these deadly beings, begins an investigation into a series of killings of prostitutes by an engineer (who is exsanguinating and mutilating his victims). She is also, however, determined to find out who, years before, killed her father, who had himself been a police officer prior to his murder.

Yoshihiro Nishimura's Tokyo Gore Police is bizarre, violent, gruesome, and frequently funny. The movie really is consistently entertaining.


I will grant that the story the director tells is generally little more than an excuse for a series of strange set pieces. Nonetheless, this simple tale of a policewoman investigating a series of crimes does incorporate a number of details, including revelations about Ruka's troubled past and about her currently disturbed mental state, that make it interesting enough to propel the film forward and to keep the viewer involved with the heroine. I will not claim that the narrative is complex or handled with any great skill, but it is involving.

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The film's real strength is, however, its assortment of images. The various 'engineers' who pop up at one time or another are always a hoot to look at. The viewer is, over the course of the movie, treated to a man who grows a chainsaw in place of an amputated arm, another man who tears off the top of his own head, but still lives, a third man whose severed penis is replaced with a monstrous red organ capable of firing lethal projectiles, a woman each of whose breasts is split with a toothy mouth and whose vulva is like the maw of a gigantic crocodile, another woman who lactates acid, and a third woman whose features are mingled with those of a snail.


These creatures are hardly the only odd things the movie has to offer, however. The police, with their samurai helmets and Darth Vader outfits, are weirdly comical, and the pet the police chief keeps, a woman whose limbs have been partially amputated so that she is made to walk on all fours (while dressed in a bondage outfit), is a more than a little creepy. The movie is packed with such strange characters.


Happily, some of the scenes of Tokyo Gore Police are filmed with enough style to equal these outlandish creations. In one, the heroine, having chased down a man who groped her on the subway, chops off his arms with a sword and walks away from him holding a parasol so that the impossible amounts of blood spraying out of his stumps will not, when raining down, soil her garments. In another, the chief's pet, whose limbs are now fixed with blades, upon which she walks, runs and leaps about in a strangely sick sort of way, and, in a third, the viewer is treated to a vision of a very unusual fetish club in which various misshapen women are auctioned off to leering bidders. Every one of these sequences is something to see.


The violence included in Tokyo Gore Police is, fortunately, just as entertaining as is its weirdness. Hardly any of the movie's grisly scenes are realistic, the acts often being committed by some fantastic monster or resulting in ridiculous fountains of blood, but they still can be repulsive. Whether Nishimura is depicting a woman who, having been chained to four cars, is being pulled apart by them, another woman fellating a man and then biting off his penis, a killer driving multiple giant syringes into a prostitute's body, an employee of the police chopping off a woman's fingers so that he can use these to decorate a cake, or an engineer suddenly popping open the length of the heroine's arm, the director manages to create a poignant sense of gruesomeness.


These murders and assaults are not the only acts of violence contained in the movie. Nishimura also incorporates a substantial number of action sequences. I will grant that none of these is spectacular, but all are well done and some are fairly exciting. Ms Shiina actually proves herself reasonably skilled at portraying a deadly swordswoman who is capable of impossible acrobatics.


As brutal and nasty as Tokyo Gore Police is, the movie is, nevertheless, suffused with a sense of black humor. Many of the engineers have a distinctly comic appearance, and many of the situations depicted are likewise funny in a revolting sort of way. The film's best comedic moments are, however, the little advertisements intermittently inserted in it. These include a commercial for cute, brightly colored knives schoolgirls can use to cut their wrists, a recruitment advertisement for the Tokyo Police (which shows them executing a criminal), and a public service announcement reminding the viewer that hara-kiri is suicide. All of these provide a grim yet oddly funny vision of a very unpleasant, but very quirky future.

1 5

I will hardly claim that Tokyo Gore Police is a great movie. It is exploitative, raunchy, and often juvenile, but it is also realized with a good amount of creativity and is wildly entertaining.

Review by Keith Allen


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