Sep 21, 2010

Tetsuo II: Body Hammer

With a lack of continuity and a thematic indulgence in reincarnation, Shinya Tsukamoto returned to his esteemed cyberpunk steam which spread like a panicked wave through cult and arthouse circuits with the smithy-porn Tetsuo II: Body Hammer. The idea on paper reads as such, juxtaposing itself alongside the original homoerotic male rapture aided with fleshy physicality that we all know as Tetsuo: the Iron Man, Body Hammer concerns itself as a allegory on reincarnation if you will, same characters grown up with different connections and an all too similar string of genetics. Perhaps lay blame on the subversive assimilation into one rusted being at the climax of the original. Both the roles of Tomorowo Taguchi and Shinya Tsukamoto as the salaryman and Yatsu, respectively, are reprised by the same actors from the original Tetsuo film. The metal fetishist, however, is given a name and a past. Branded as Yatsu and adorning the same shirt with an "X" emblazoned upon it, Yatsu is the skinhead leader of a group of bodybuilders who seek the scholarly fortunes of an elderly scientist in order to create the godlike body mechanics artificially. Or something along those lines.

As Tsukamoto and top film analysts would spread it, Body Hammer isn't a sequel but an evolution of both character and the regurgitated-and-not-improved aesthetic used within, which sadly, siphons most of the originals mark left upon the initial viewing. The stakes were certainly raised with the promise of a sequel, both on and off the set. With a salaryman confined in a sterile and concrete building instead of a sweaty shack, the bourgeois household and family matters are put to work quite efficiently. That is, before Tsukamoto bleeds this sequel like a stuck pig expecting expectations to be forgotten and weeding every promising aspect in favor for a sordid creature feature towards the end with coherence and narrative despite the successful nature of the sensory-overload that is the Iron Man. Not just the notion of ousting black and white in favor of a smeared color palette yet to be perfected, but for removing the blatant sexuality of the original in an attempt to channel pre-Tokyo Fist idealizations of macabre masculinity.

Foremost, color was never meant to be existent in the universe of Tetsuo. The grainy and obscured visuals of steaming coils, leaking faucets, and wire-rotting junk atop sordid soil was breathing the monochromatic horrors that Tetsuo: The Iron Man effortlessly exposed in a daring and culturally unheard-of fashion. The addition of hues flattens the lucid transgressions of the oddity that was the Tetsuo namesake. To set further in motion and to evolve my previous argument of narrative, Tetsuo II is more of a film than the original film ever aspired to be. With theories of gangs turned to manifesting flesh alchemy and the surplus scenes of tripe chest-piece manipulations with body cannons exploding with roadside sparklers and soaked fireworks, Body Hammer is not to be taken as a serious project. Perhaps a foot in the door as an aspiring film maker and not just an extended music video project for Chu Ishikawa's incredible hammer-to-anvil noisemakings, our pal Shinya has (decidingly) created some stale, albeit enjoyable, creations but Tetsuo II: Body Hammer finds no time to entertain except for a handful of scenes. Proving to be a failure on near all fronts, Ishikawa's return to scoring the post-science world of the Iron-beings is a haggard attempt at "evolving" the now "advanced" prototype of real industrial. Given inspiration from a poster with frogs(?), Ishikawa's ideal representation of the soundtrack to Tetsuo II sounds more as if a Super Nintendo track was recorded in midi format under several feet of water.

Tetsuo II: Body Hammer lives up to neither the title of Body Hammer or Tetsuo. As later experienced in the break-up masterpiece Tokyo Fist, Tsukamoto's obsession with bulging and grotesque muscles was still premature in the womb. With the exception of a couple of training montages, Body Hammer's addiction to the physique is quite absent and is perhaps rotting somewhere on a cutting room floor. The skinheads involvement in the film is quite absent and serves as a preinvention of the parable, Tokyo Fist - the perfected worship of dripping machismo. Body Hammer opens a note of remote tangency compared to the affable circus-scud of the predecessor. A salaryman in his marble chamber, a solid life in contrast to the squalid exploits of Taniguchi past. To break formation and sing some praise, the first 40 minutes is wholly better than the terrible drivel that makes up the climax and Tsukamoto is best to reference the first sequel as a portfolio for some terrific arm mutations and exquisite practical effects in an era that is overrun by the need for computers and technology to run rampant over expression. That being said, if you admire the audacity of the groundbreaking precursor, avoid at most costs. 


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Really, Really like to see millions more monstrous cyberg transformations.