Stephen reviews: Tokyo Gore Police (2008)

tokyogorepolice_1Tokyo Gore Police [東京残酷警察 Tōkyō Zankoku Keisatsu] (2008)

Starring Eihi Shiina, Itsuji Itao, Yukihide Benny, Jiji Bu, Ikuko Sawada, Cay Izumi

Directed by Yoshihiro Nishimura

This whole October I’ve been reviewing films that started strong and then trailed off into blandness by the end, so it was nice to finish out the month with a film that did the exact opposite. I avoided any information about this film other than its director, who also made Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl. That movie was bat-shit crazy right out of the gates, so I was rather disappointed when Tokyo Gore Police seemed so humdrum at first. Sure, it opened with a huge showdown between weird samurai-dressed cops and a hobo with a chainsaw arm, but this is supposed to be Japanese weird and it just wasn’t weird enough to impress. This is also horror comedy, so the poorly made martial arts sequences weren’t doing anything for me either.

The next part of the film went on a spree of the typical horror fare that makes me avoid the genre. Walking around in dark hallways in a vain attempt to amp up the tension. Boring. Although I did have to laugh at the main character’s undercover hooker costume, it was nowhere near enough to make up for all the sitting around pretending to take things seriously that was going on. What was enough to break the spell of boredom was the moment when the villain rips off the top of his head and sprouts gun barrels from his eyes. That was new.

tokyogorepolice_2From there on out things keep getting weirder and more demented. This reminded me of early Peter Jackson films like Bad Taste or Dead Alive in the way it deceives you into thinking you have a handle on things, only to sweep the rug out from under you with the most disturbing lunacy you could possibly conceive of. This comparison really hit home when I realized that Yoshihiro Nishimura not only directed the film, but also edited it and did the FX work. The gore doesn’t live up to Jackson’s standards, and Nishimura is a little too fond of looking through blood-spattered camera lenses, but it certainly does the job. And some of the shit in this movie is every bit as depraved and confounding as anything from Dead Alive. It also helps that the FX work is a good deal better than Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl, despite being an earlier film. I credit the much smaller use of CG.

Now you really shouldn’t be watching this film for the story, and the plot is rather predictable at times. But despite this, it still took me off guard. When a twist came along, I always thought, “Oh, I should’ve seen that coming.” But with a film this absurd it was hard to think coherently about the plot when the more immediate question is: Does the police chief really keep an amputated girl in a bondage suit as a pet? And then: Doesn’t anyone think that’s odd? (The answers, by the way, are “yes” and “no” respectively.) In fact, I completely lost track of several minor characters and subplots over the course of the film, though that was probably as much to do with the narrative flow as anything.

tokyogorepolice_3The film takes a serious tone with all of these things, and then splices in goofy commercials for trendy new wrist cutters (they look cute, don’t hurt, and they make your blood tastier!) and ridiculous police propaganda (now you can execute criminals from home using your Wii!). At first I found the serious take on the plot distracting when it was so obviously too absurd to take seriously. But as the film wore on, I found that it really did add a layer of necessary cohesion to what would otherwise be random unconnected fluff. By the end I was thoroughly immersed in the film’s madness, and the implied sequel has left me curious to see what comes next, though I can’t imagine how you could top this.

At this point anything else I say will simply be spoiling the disturbing images on display. If you like gory comedy, then this will surely give you some good laughs. If you don’t, then this film will only disgust you. And you probably know which you are already. So go out and track it down or avoid it as the case may be.

4 comments to Stephen reviews: Tokyo Gore Police (2008)

  • Nice review! A few years back I watched the first 20 minutes or so of this. I didn’t actively sit down to watch it, so I wouldn’t say that I “shut it off.” I just remember some bad martial arts battle. In any case, ever since I’ve been curious to watch it in earnest, as I’ve become a much bigger B-movie fan and I think I’d be able to take it a lot better now. Your comparisons to early Peter Jackson definitely help, as well.

    • Stephen

      Thanks! Yeah, the martial arts are pretty bad, so I can easily see a martial arts fan turning away from this in disgust, but they do get slightly better towards the end. Though that’s really more to do with the sheer lunacy of the concept then the actual martial arts. Hope you enjoy it if you track it down again.

  • I liked this, but thought that it looked like it was about to turn in to a porno at any second. So many weird, wonderful and batshit crazy things happen that it could only really be from Japan. So much blood – I dreamt in crimson for a week after this!!!

    • Stephen

      Very true. It does revel in its trashiness. But at the same time, the characters are so disturbing that it’s hard to think of them as sexy, even when they’re trying to be. It felt more like a parody or satire of trashiness than anything. It’s definitely one hell of a fun ride if you’re up for Japanese weird, though.

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