I saw three films last week set in Tokyo. None of them, not even the one with the city in the title, would claim to be about Tokyo, but they ended up creating a triptych of Tokyo which, more than any individual film, reminded me of that crazy city. After all Ozu’s Tokyo Story is not about Tokyo, but still manages to say something about it. So while none of these films were all that great, its worth having a look at them to see what they can tell us about Tokyo.

With Tokyo Gore Police, its simple. It is a crazy ass film. It knows it is crazy, it wants to be. And often in those moments of self conscious madness and pride that we see the real madness of an impossibly large city like Tokyo. Its the madness of being out of control and not caring.

Tokyo Gore Police is a future set splatter pic which tries to give itself a few airs and graces via the medium of satire. A number of interspersed commercials about the privatised police force however does not dress up what is a gratuitous gore feature, especially if you’ve seen Robocop or Starship Troopers. Plot is perfunctory: it is the FUTURE, Tokyo’s police have been privatised and a bunch of bad guys who call themselves The Engineers have turned up. Somehow the Engineers have modified themselves so that when they get a limb lopped off, a weapon grows in its place. So cue people with swords, guns and – would you believe it in a splatter flick – chainsaws grow in the stump. Our heroine is a remarkably moody young police officer who wears the skimpiest of standard cop uniforms, carries a samurai swords and is really good at killing engineers. She has a convoluted back story which ticks off
a) orphaned
b) cop Dad killed in the line of fire
c) being brought up in the cop shop
and you know that the bad guy at the end will have either
a) killed her Dad
b) be her Dad.

But you don’t (I don’t) watch a film like Tokyo Gore Police for the storyline. Instead there is about an hour and a half of ridiculous fights, outstandingly camp gory moments and the most ridiculous impalements and dismemberments this side of Evil Dead 2. It is cheap, its effects are clever and it is truly bonkers. And you know as much as I usually don’t like stuff like this, I rather enjoyed it.

And it represents Tokyo in as much as, like the engineers, Tokyo is a city which cannibalises itself constantly. Outside the high tech high rises there are a lot of buildings and even shacks in Tokyo that will not be there in five years time. Its a city that eats itself, and then for desert ate Yokohama too. The film has an anxiety about technology, but much more of an anxiety about a semi-fascistic police state. But it can’t really articulate its rage against said police state, certainly not while there is a short skirted woman with a samurai sword chopping in half a man with a chainsaw for an arm is there to distract them.

Here’s the trailer. Starts arty, doesn’t stay that way! (By the way the soundtrack is ace too.)