Review: Tetsuo II: Bodyhammer (1992)

Tsukamoto Shinya’s Tetsuo II: Bodyhammer is a slightly superior pseudo-sequel to 1988’s Tetsuo, and like that movie, it’s weird, crazy stuff indeed. Logic and rationality quail, run away and quickly die of fright when confronted with a movie like this. While it must be said that it is more narratively comprehensible than the original film, that isn’t saying much.

The story, so far as one can tell, involves a mild mannered businessman (Tomoroh Taguchi) whose son is killed and he and his wife kidnapped and experimented upon by a violent gang. He sets about his inevitable revenge and rescue operation while constantly mutating various ugly metal weapons from his body and using them on his equally monstrous enemies. Shinya has a notably kinetic method of shooting action, a particular gift for editing which manages to hide, somewhat, the fact that you really need a bigger budget to make this kind of movie properly.

Bodyhammer eschews Tetsuo’s grainy black and white cinematography for a slightly less grainy, highly stylised colour palette, and adds exposition and a certain amount of character development, things which were deliberately avoided in the first movie. This inevitably makes Bodyhammer feel a tad more mainstream than the fashionably grungy and incomprehensible original, but it is also a more complete and polished piece of work, even if it lacks the first film’s nutty sense of originality.

That said, this sort of thing is really little more than fascinating silliness. No review will ever be written of either of the Tetsuo movies that fails to mention David Cronenberg, the undisputed king of fusion of metal and flesh in cinema. But this reference is very flattering, as neither of these movies exhibit anything like the depth of curiosity about technology and its relation to the body that imbues Cronenberg’s best work. It’s all about the cheap gory thrills — not that there’s anything wrong with that.

6 stop-motion frames out of 10.
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