TETSUO 2: THE BODY HAMMER (1991) [Feature]

Japan (MIFF 1992 )
Director: Shinya Tsukamoto


Shinya Tsukamoto's original Tetsuo: The Iron Man, was a hyper-energized account of a young man who suddenly discovers that his body parts have been replaced with sharp metal blades. Little seen outside of Japan (and, when it was, without subtitles), the first Tetsuo looks more like a rehearsal for the second, not a sequel but a development. If a lethal and extreme mixture of knowing schlock and avant-garde poetry, equal parts cinema art (a la Todd Haynes' Poison) and kinetic cybertronic action film that could only come out of Japan.

Where the first film used organic metal as a metaphor for subconscious fears and libidinal urges, the new one shows men turning (or being turned) into weapons: the exact opposite of Terminator 2, which humanizes and domesti­cates a killing machine. Tetsuo 2 probes deeper still into specifically masculine gestalts, demol­ishing its share of masculine stereotypes along the way. The last filmmaker to explore these areas was the young David Cronenberg and Tsukamoto is clearly his equal as a poet, if not as a formalist. Tetsuo is an extreme, violent cre­ation, never mindless and endlessly fascinating — nobody else makes films like this.

"While my primary concern was to create one sensual image on the screen when I was making Tetsuo: The Iron Man, the sense of 'the end of the world' became the main motif in Tetsuo 2. The protagonist in the film is nur­tured in urban society, which is just like a mother to him. As much as he feels a bond with it, he is compelled to become a beast whose power is fatal to that mother. This is exactly the feeling I want to share with the audience.

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