film review : Tetsuo The Bullet Man

The third film in Tsukamoto’s series started by the staple underground horror masterpiece, Tetsuo: The Iron Man.  Shot in digital HD with a theme song by Trent Reznor, will it compare?

by Adam Rosina

Tetsuo: The Iron Man was, and in many ways still is, the extreme film proving ground. When exploring the labyrinthine world of underground cinema, you either stumble upon this flick or have it forced upon you by an all-too-eager (and likely somewhat sadistic) friend, and how you react to it determines whether you continue down the rabbit hole or retreat back to the safety of mainstream cinema. Shinya Tsukamoto’s 1989 feature-length debut (“feature length” is generous; it clocks in just over an hour) was pure weaponized cinema; a violent speed-freak take on cyberpunk built upon a foundation of existentialist and psychosexual themes. Also, it had a drill penis. Tsukamoto made a name for himself with Tetsuo, and built a career that paralleled that of David Cronenberg (his closest western analogue), making films that slowly moved away from the fantastic and into the realm of the psychological (Tokyo Fist, Bullet Ballet, A Snake of June), while maintaining his focus on the visceral. Tsukamoto returned to the world of Tetsuo in 1992 with the release of Tetsuo II: Body Hammer, an ambitious follow up that, while a good film in its own right, didn’t have nearly the same impact as its predecessor. Which brings us to 2011, and the North American release of Tetsuo: The Bullet Man, the third film in the series and Tsukamoto’s first English-language film, designed to reintroduce the Tetsuo concept to the international film world. Does it succeed in matching the artistic triumph of the original? Not exactly…

read the full review in the April/May 2011 Issue

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