DIRECTED BY: Shinya Tsukamoto
FEATURING: Eric Bossick, Akiko Monô, Shinya Tsukamoto
PLOT: A salaryman with “android DNA” turns into a metal monster when he gets angry.
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: Tetsuo: The Bullet Man (2009) is a virtual English language remake of the same auteur’s original (Certified Weird) Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1985) that’s inferior in every respect except for budget. See the original instead.
COMMENTS: Besides the basic man-becomes-mineral motif, Tetsuo: The Bullet Man contains several explicit nods to Tetsuo: The Iron Man. The salaryman’s spastic dance over the opening title is recreated. The metal transformation is once again set in motion by a hit-and-run accident, although the implications are quite different this time. And Tsukamoto’s trademark high-speed zoom effect, where he edits a series of stills together at breakneck speed to take the viewer on a roller-coaster ride, is again in play. But whereas in Iron Man the technique was used to create the cheesy but effectively unreal illusion of the Salaryman and the Fetishist racing through deserted city streets, here the rapid-fire cuts don’t lead us on a journey, but reveal only random, unconnected shots of skyscrapers skewed at various angles. The editing creates movement and pace, but it doesn’t go anywhere. Therein lies your metaphor for comparing the two films. Tsukamoto tries to endow this 21st century Tetsuo with more plot sense, but the movie ends up making less artistic sense. There is a basic (though logically unsatisfactory) b-movie schema to “explain” things this time out. Half-Japanese Anthony (the archetypal Salaryman is given a name for this outing, as part of the half-hearted attempt to relocate Tetsuo in our reality) has the misfortune of having inherited “android DNA” that will cause him to mutate into a man/killer machine hybrid if he gets angry enough. A paramilitary group is intent on assassinating him before he can learn to harness his power, while director Tsukamoto plays a mysterious figure whose goal is to goad Anthony into transforming into a human arsenal, both by threatening his family and by calling him “cowboy.” The result is many confusing, dimly lit battle scenes; missing, sadly, is the Continue reading CAPSULE: TETSUO: THE BULLET MAN (2009)