on 20 April 2002
Tetsuo 2 - Body Hammer is an interesting if daunting watch. part Lars Von Trier [think Element of Crime] live-action film, part Jan Svankmajer [Alice and Conspirators of Pleasure] stop-motion animation, Tetsuo 2 tells the story of a man who is overcome by both rage and technology when his son is kidnapped.
The film is bathed in bright colors, loud noises, plastic tubes and cheap gore. This is not to suggest it is bad, merely an wild ride that over stimulates the senses while the story limps wounded behind the style.
Tetsuo 2 - Body Hammer is best watched with friends with a love of sci-fi and horror. With so much to see in every scene they'll be plenty to talk, laugh, and squeal about.
on 22 October 2007
Tetsuo II: Body Hammer is director Shinya Tsukamoto's sequel/re-make/companion piece to his cult, low-budget 1988 art-house shocker Tetsuo: The Iron Man; a striking piece of hyper-kinetic visual filmmaking, in which an anonymous Japanese business man finds his body inexplicably mutating into a mass of metal, wire and steal. This version of the story cleans up and clarifies some of the more indistinct and visually abstract points established in the original film, but also adds to it a greater psychological subtext and a broader dramatic scale.
The film begins in a more recognisable world than Tsukamoto's original, with the use of colour (albeit, heavily tinted to shades of blue, amber and grey) creating a more recognisable Tokyo that will later be juxtaposed against the hellish underworld depicted in the second half of the story. There's also more believable characterisation, a loose plot and some vague explanations for what is actually happening. Some fans of the original film consider this to be Body Hammer's major failing; with the clarification and characterisation detracting from the weird "wow-factor" of the original Iron Man film; which, as a work of great science-fiction cinema, really existed in its own world devoid of conservative narrative and cinematic convention. I like to appreciate the film from another perspective, however; with Tsukamoto simply fleshing out the themes of the original film a little further, in the same way that a song-writer might often perform a number of different songs about the same subject, but most often, with a different style and arrangement. Tsukamoto has always been more of an artist than a traditional filmmaker, which is why you can see the same themes resurfacing again and again in a different context throughout his work.
Tsukamoto's principal preoccupations as a filmmaker are often with alienation, claustrophobia, technology, and most importantly, the human body. Throughout his work, Tsukamoto has looked at the self-inflicted destruction of the body, via films such as Iron Man, Body Hammer and Tokyo Fist; through to the more traditional notions of natural decay and internal destruction with films like A Snake of June, Bullet Ballet and Vital. All of these characteristics are present here, with the film showing us how easily tragedy can strike (and go un-noticed) in a built up city, and how striving to become the ultimate human often involves a melding of man with machine (the natural with the synthetic).
The great thing about Tsukamoto's work is that it can often be enjoyed on a number of levels, so, with Body Hammer, we have something that could be viewed as a straight science-fiction film with elements of cyber-punk derived body horror, or instead we could look at some of the deeper, metaphorical interpretations pertaining to the loss of a child, parenthood, childhood trauma, guilt, and perhaps even notions more unsavoury than that! Without wanting to give away too much, there's an element of the plot here that involves the central character's infant son being kidnapped. What follows is quite shocking and heavily symbolic, but I personally like to think that this moment is actually the real impetuous for Body Hammer's plot. So, we have the idea of a character spiralling into a pit of despair, consumed by guilt and losing his mind and the trust of his wife in light of this tragic chain of events! Now, I'm not pretending I know all the answers here, but I like to theorise. Someone else might view the film and take from it an entirely different interpretation but could still find it enjoyable and entertaining. The fact remains that despite the layers of personal interpretation the one thing that will always stand out - regardless of whether or not you liked the film - is the unbridled imagination and visual flair that Tsukamoto brings to the project as it's writer, director, editor, art director, cinematographer, designer and supporting actor.
It certainly won't be to all tastes, as even committed admirers of the first Tetsuo film often write this one off as an interesting failure, but for me, this film offers an entirely new perspective on the territory of Iron Man and the usual preoccupations of Tsukamoto's later films, such as Tokyo Fist, A Snake of June and Vital. As Roger Ebert wrote in his review at the time, "Tetsuo II' doesn't rise (or stoop) to the level of conventional action or suspense; it's a design concept, a director's attempt to take some of the ideas in Blade Runner and some of the Arnold Schwarzenegger films and the Japanese animated films like Akira and extend them into grotesquery". It's perhaps not on a par with some of Tsukamoto's other works, chiefly Tetsuo, Tokyo Fist, Gemini and A Snake of June, but regardless, remains a unique viewing experience for those who are genuinely into through-provoking, visually arresting art-house shock cinema.
On a final note, I would perhaps suggest starting here and then progressing onto the first Tetsuo film, as this one is a little less challenging and easier to get through and thus acts as a nice little gateway into this particular filmmaker's warped and wonderful world.
on 4 March 2005
Well to start off this film is not as disturbing as
most people whould have you believe,
The visuals of this film are amazing,
with so much going on all the time, its just a mindfest of
emotions and anarchy which help you to understand how the
main protaginist Tomo Tanguchi is feeling, and beleive me he isnt feling very good.
And the special effects, although some of them are dated are
absolutely brilliant, the masterpeice of the films SFX is when
tanguchi is strapped down to a chair, with his mind being
probed,and a gun forces itself through the flesh on his chest,
tearing flesh and sinew as it goes, its brilliantly done.
Now most people say this film lacks plot, and direction, well that may very
well be true in the way that the imagery takes front stage,because
this film seems more akin to a visual commentary, on how we humans
actually like to destroy ourselves and our loved ones,its about
human nature,and the human psyche.
when i bought this film i sat down to watch it immediately,
and while i was watching it, my mind was just racing,peicing
together all that i could see and it just got better as the
film went on and then when it had finished all i could think
was, ok I think this may need another viewing.
even if your not a fan of japanese cult cinema, your going to
enjoy this, if only for its visuals.
THIS IS ONE EVERYONE NEEDS TO SEE ATLEAST ONCE.
on 21 October 2006
"Tetsuo II: Body Hammer" is a very strange film. The basic plot is about a man who can create guns with his body, and a gang led by his brother (with similar powers) who murder his son and kidnap his wife.
You can pretty much ignore this though as the gore, special effects, odd camera angles and spinning, psychedelic, imagery take hold.
This is a very very strange film. Don't think about it too much and don't take it as seriously as the creators did, and you might enjoy it.
This is perhaps quite similar to "Casshern", which is also insane but a nice ride while you watch it. I prefer "Casshern" though, as it is on a much larger scale, the plot is slightly clearer, and it has a meaning to it.
Sit back and enjoy the imagery.