imagemap for this page. got to bottom of review for links to other pages.

Tokyo Fist  

 

A masterwork from one of Japan's greatest contemporary filmmakers, Shinya Tsukamoto. His other creations, most notably the sci-fi mindblower Tetsuo (1986), have all contained explicit fantastic and supernatural elements. Tokyo Fist, on the other hand, is a boxing movie, but unlike any other boxing movie you've ever seen. It eschews any and all conventions, presenting a bleak vision of life in modern-day Japan. It's a wild and often upsetting film that you won't soon forget.

space
Tsukamoto is among the most interesting filmmakers around, and one of the only true auteurs.

The Package

Shinya Tsukamoto's stunning first film, Tetsuo, had a man metamorphose into a giant robot-creature. Working on a shoestring budget, Tsukamoto wrote, produced, directed, photographed, edited, designed the props and even played the lead role in that film. His hard work paid off. The film was an international cult hit. Naturally, Tetsuo's greatest success was in its native Japan, where it spawned an entire cyberpunk sub-genre.
Unfortunately, Tsukamoto's two follow-up features Hiruko The Goblin (1989) and Tetsuo 2 (1991), despite undeniable flashes of brilliance, were vastly inferior to his debut effort. It was beginning to seem like Tsukamoto was a one-shot wonder...but then Tokyo Fist appeared in 1995 and proved otherwise.
Tsukamoto once again handled the majority of the technical chores himself; he remains one of the modern cinema's only true auteurs. He also played the lead role, actually undergoing the intense physical regimen depicted in the film. Most critics agree that this is his finest work to date, reaffirming Tsukamoto as one of the most interesting and challenging filmmakers on the planet.top

space
An all-out psychic duel, definitely not for the squeamish.

The Story

Tsukamoto plays Tsuda, a wimpy insurance salesman who is engaged to Hizuro, an apparently normal young woman. Unfortunately, muscle-headed boxer Takuji--an old friend of Tsuda's--enters the scene and seduces Hizuro away from him. Tsuda resolves to get her back, and begins training to become a boxer himself. Drunk on the violence these two exhibit, Hizuro begins her own metamorphosis, mutilating her body with tattoos and piercing. The story boils down to a three-way psychic duel of sorts, in a blood-gushing finale definitely not for the squeamish.
That's about all the "plot" we get. The film is an extremely claustrophobic three character piece...or, if you like, four character piece, the fourth character being Tokyo itself. As these three lunatics become increasingly obsessed with destroying each other and themselves, the city is always present in the fore and background, with its giant sky-scrapers, faceless crowds and sterile, futuristic architecture.
Tsukamoto's strengths are definitely not in the storytelling department, but then the story is clearly not important here. We're meant to experience this twisted tale through the disturbing images with which Tsukamoto fills the screen. top


space
Tsukamoto creates an intense cinematic universe entirely his own.

The Direction

If this film were any more intense, we'd need a seatbelt to view it. Tsukamoto eschews conventional movie logic, creating a cinematic universe uniquely his own. At times it resembles a form of surrealist poetry, with the visuals intended to trigger off associations in viewers' minds rather than impart a coherent narrative.
Foremost among the many memorable images on display are the depictions of modern Tokyo's cityscape, a dystopian nightmare photographed from the strangest possible angles. Living in this deranged landscape, it's no wonder all the characters are obsessive and insane.
Many viewers will be driven away by the sheer kineticism of the whole enterprise. The camera literally never stops moving and the editing makes even music videos look restrained. As the characters pummel, shout at, and slam into one another, Tsukamoto creates a dark symphony of flesh, metal, motion and blood.top

space

Vital Statistics

Tokyo Fist

Director: Shinya Tsukamoto
Producer: Shinya Tsukamoto
Screenplay: Shinya Tsukamoto
Cinematographer: Shinya Tsukamoto
Editor: Shinya Tsukamoto
Cast: Shinya Tsukamoto, Kaori Fujii, Kohji Tsukamoto, Naoto Takenaka
top


Select another review!