TOKYO FIST (1995) [Feature]

Japan (MIFF 1996 , Contemporary World Cinema )
Director: Shinya Tsukamoto


Shinya Tsukamoto left audiences astonished, perplexed and pulverised after his first two features Telsuo-Tfe Iron Ma« (1989) and Tetsuo-The Body Hammer (1991), One thing viewers were sure of was that they had witnessed an idiosyncratic, obsessive and original cinematic vision. Transformation and integration are two of Tsukamoto's key themes, which, along with contamination, had many pundits describe him as a Japanese incarnation of David Cronenberg.

The Tetsuo films dealt with the plight of a Salaryman' (colloquial shorthand referring to virtually anyone, or 'Everyman', stuck in a 9 to 5 existence) infected with a contagion which causes him to mutate into a half-cyborg cluster of heavy-calibre weaponry. In Tokyo Fist a slightly different visual metaphor is chosen—boxing: representing the wild side of an urban technological society—but the development of narrative themes remains intact.

In the course of business, Tsuda (once again. Tsukamoto in the lead role), an insurance agent, encounters Takuji, an old school chum, now a professional boxer. During a subsequent visit and scuffle, a jealous Tsuda is KO'd by Takuji who has attempted to seduce his fiancee. Hizuru. This violent episode is the catalyst for change with Tsuda now consumed by the desire for revenge and attends boxing training just as Hizuru moves in with Takuji after piercing every available appendage and getting heavily tattooed.

This brutal, sexually-charged love triangle boils toward an eventual climactic confrontation abetted by Tsukamoto's house style speeded motion footage, pixillation and kinetic editing propelled by a throbbing techno-industrial score WARNING: Don't kick sand in this Salaryman's face!


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