February 23, 2006
Tetsuo II: Body Hammer
Directed by: Shinya Tsukamoto
Written by: Shinya Tsukamoto
Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: High
Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Medium
Key Cast Members:
Overview: Unlike the tagline (should not be missed…), I think its quite OK to miss Tetsuo II, especially if you’ve already seen the real thing. In Tetsuo II, Tsukamoto substitutes a larger budget in lieu of the unique and innovative narrative we find in Tetsuo - the Iron Man. The compromise is bad all around. For starters, this style of merging man and machine works FAR better in B&W than it does in color. The surreal believability factor of the FX drops significantly in color. As for the story, the whole idea of centering the conflict around a family setting significantly lessens the power of his earlier story, as does Tsukamoto’s attempt to add a more coherent narrative. While his point still seems to be the same one, its told with lots less force, in a far less interesting way, and also in a far less shocking way.
The Bottom Line: I can take screencaps of this if anyone is dying to see the visuals (I understand it’s out of print), but it’s just not a great movie. Tetsuo: Bodyhammer is OK to see this as long as you understand you’re getting a Japanese Cyberpunk movies that’s far less than Tetsuo - Iron Man, or even less than Rubber’s Lover, for that matter. I’ve heard people comment that Bodyhammer sucks so they aren’t interested in seeing the first one - don’t buy this reasoning. While the first screams uniqueness, Body Hammer whimpers “cash in on my earlier success by cutting back the edginess and going more mainstream.” It even stars Tomorowo Taguchi again, who attempts to reprise the same role and crazed scream faces - only this time it comes across more as the last show in a long day of staged repeat performances, similar to what you might find in a theater act at an amusement park late on a Sunday evening. In that sense, Body Hammer comes off as a sequel in true hollywood style.