Review: Tokyo Gore Police (2008)

Tokyo Gore Police was created by Yoshihiro Nishimura, the make up and special effects supervisor of The Machine Girl, which I reviewed for you very recently. But unlike The Machine Girl (which was directed by Noboru Iguchi), Nishimura was totally in charge for Tokyo Gore Police. Besides being the director, he was also responsible for the film’s special effects, gore effects, screenplay, creature design and editing, and the movie was based on his own independently produced short film Anatomia Extinction. Even if you have not heard of this filmmaker or his works, you should already know what to expect from this movie even just from its title alone. Yes, it is about the Tokyo police, and there is a lot of gore.

In a futuristic Tokyo, the city is threatened by the rise of vicious mutants, known as ‘engineers’, on a murderous rampage. The distinctive trait of these criminals is that when they are injured, their wounds are altered and become deadly weapons. The police force, which has been privatised, is determined to wipe out all of these mutants. Ruka belongs to a special section of the police force that is responsible for hunting engineers, and has an impressive record of having already killed fifty of them. But her life takes a dramatic turn when she meets ‘Key Man’, an engineer who is very strong, and very very clever…

The main character of Ruka is played by Eihi Shiina, who is probably most famous for her role in Takashi Miike’s cult classic Audition. Shiina handles the emotional complexity of Ruka’s character with ease, and as the central character make the film so much more believable. Her performance turns the movie from just bearable to highly watchable. The rest of the cast all give credible performances, though most of them really do not get given much screen time.

To discuss this movie, it is unavoidable to talk about the gore aspect. It graphically depicts all sorts of bodily harm to people, and viewers get to see gallons of fake blood spraying from the characters’ wounds. This seems to be a trademark of Yoshihiro Nishimura’s works. Many scenes are so disgusting that they are disturbing, and so shocking that they are sickening. Those with a weak stomach should stay well away, or at least have a vomit bag ready just in case.

Many of the technical aspects of the film are actually pretty good. The soundtrack is exciting. The action is stylish and creative, in particular the scenes that involve Ruka using her samurai sword against the engineers. The script is an interesting one, and offers action, humour, and even a bit of social commentary and satire. Finally, the cinematography is outstanding and helps to create an uncomfortably eerie atmosphere. The lights of the city at night are beautifully captured, making it look so pretty yet so cold.

There is no doubt that Tokyo Gore Police is too gory, but it is saved by a wonderful performance by Eihi Shiina in the lead role, together with some fantastic technical aspects. In the end, I am pleasantly surprised that it is not such a bad film after all. I just wish that Yoshihiro Nishimura would one day make a movie that is as imaginative as this one, but without the unnecessary bloodiness. I guess this wish would probably not come true, at least not in the near future, as Nishimura promised the viewers at the end of his movie: ‘more gore (is) coming soon’!

7 sliced up key-shaped tumours out of 10.
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