height="285" hspace="0" vspace="0" width="200" align="Right"
border="0"/>Confession time: I’ve never seen Tetsuo: The Iron Man and my knowledge of Asian body horror is limited at best, so I went into Tetsuo: The Bullet Man
completely blind. Well, almost. Mention that you’ve never seen a Shinya
Tsukamoto film before at Fantastic Fest and you suddenly find yourself
surrounded by a chorus of giddy people proclaiming “Man, you have no
idea what you’re getting into!”
So I didn’t go in blind. I went in knowing that I had no idea what I was getting into.
Tetsuo: The Bullet Man
is the tale of an American living in Tokyo who watches his son get
brutally murdered and then finds himself transforming into an invincible
cyborg with the ability to render things asunder. Naturally, he sets
out to decimate his son’s killers and find out what’s happening to him.
If you read the sentence “finds himself transforming into an invincible cyborg” and imagined something akin to say, Robocop,
I wouldn’t blame you. That’s the sane image to conjure. It’s not sane
to imagine a man’s skin painfully turning to steel, his face and body
contorting and falling apart and his innards transforming into gears and
pistons. Our hero is like a Japanese robot Hulk: the angrier he gets,
the more he resembles one of those robot squids from The Matrix.
But is it good? This is a case where words fail me. Tetsuo: The Bullet Man
is an experience. I’m not sure if it was a positive or a negative
experience, but I’m glad I saw it because now I can say I’ve
Tetsuo: The Bullet Man
makes the most of it’s brief running time by being one of the loudest,
fastest and most sensory abusive motion pictures I’ve ever seen. Shots
last for fractions of a second. The camera never stops moving. Much of
the film plays like an extended experimental montage, jumping where and
when it needs to go and pretty much not caring what it will do to any
epileptics in the audience. There is not a moment of silence and when
things threaten to quiet down, Tsukamoto unleashes ungodly noises on the
soundtrack to make sure you don’t have a chance to calm down. This is
literally the loudest film I’ve ever seen. It’s an exhausting,
a film filled with strangeness, the strangest decision may have been to
shoot the film in English with an American lead. The result is a
stilted performance from Eric Bossick, who not only has to put up with
increasingly ridiculous make-up but is obviously being directed through a
translator and working from a script that sounds like it was written in
Japanese and put through a free online translator. You’ve never heard
human beings talk like this. In another movie, this would be a
detractor. Here, it only adds to the strangeness of the experience.
I’m not going to give Tetsuo: The Bullet Man
a numerical score because it doesn’t ask for one and doesn’t deserve
one. I will, however, give it a tentative recommendation. Because it
really is something. I just don’t know what that something is.