Tetsuo: The Iron Man


Year 1989

Tomoroh Taguchi as  Man
Kei Fujiwara as Woman/Girlfriend
Shinya Tsukamoto  as Metal Fetishist
Nobu Kanaoka as  Woman in Glasses  
Naomasa Musaka as Doctor
Renji Ishibashi  as Tramp
 
Director - Shinya Tsukamoto  
Screenwriter - Shinya Tsukamoto

Any movie that begins with a man forcing an iron bar into his thigh gets my attention immediately.

This is one of those little movies whose plot and theme are nicely woven together. Contrary to some comments that I've read that state that there is no plot, there really is one. It's not a slap in the face kind of thing, but the story of revenge is definitely there. It may be too subtle for some because the writer/director/actor weaves his humanity versus technology theme into the story so tightly that the plot may be hard to ferret out.

I do have to say that by the end of the movie the nuance is gone and that theme's become a two-by-four beating you over the head. If you miss the theme, it's because you've been knocked out.

This is a subtitled Japanese black and white minimalist movie. The characters listed are the only ones in the movie. This may have been due to a small budget, but it works nicely to confine the scope of the film.

Once you begin watching this movie, it's hard to look away. It starts with a bang (literally) then settles into a slow, though ever escalating, pace as it tracks the destruction a troubled domestic arrangement. The reason for the trouble becomes apparent as the revenge is taken. As the final confrontation between "salary man" and "iron man" plays out, the pace is manic.

Excellent use is made of stop action photography during the confrontation. I can't think of a better special effect to demonstrate the composure of the metal fethishist ("iron man") as he effortless slides through the back streets of what I'm assuming is either Tokyo or a similarly large city. The fact that the only other person encountered during this episode is a tramp makes the empty streets seem so much colder and impersonal.

The accompanying music, a driving techno-beat, compliments the activity to add an additional level of the surreal to the proceedings.

The movie is flawed in many aspects, not the least of which are the bad special effects. Some effects are excellent, such as when the "salary man" begins metamorphosing piecemeal into metal. But others remind me of "Buck Rogers" serials. (You know the ones where cotton is used to show the spaceship exhaust and you can see the wires?) The ending of "Tetsuo" looks like the props were taken from the Japanese version of "Goodwill".

I do recommend watching the movie. It's unique, obviously a work of love, and usually makes good use of symbolism as only an independent film can.


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