Tsuda (played by Shinya Tsukamoto) is a frustrated insurance salesman who lives a life of quiet desperation with his girlfriend Hizuru (Kaori Fujii). His job yields little fulfillment, his relationship lacks passion, and he feels perpetually fatigued, as if overwhelmed by the inhuman scale of Tokyo. His life takes a bizarre turn when his old high school acquaintance Kojima (Kohji Tsukamoto) pays him a visit. The wild-eyed professional boxer attempts to seduce Hizuru, driving Tsuda into a jealous fury. When he confronts Kojima, he ends up in the hospital and Hizuru ends up with the boxer. Seeking revenge, Tsuda begins boxing training with insane intensity. Watching his former high school chum thrash his sparring partners gives Kojima a rise of some form, bolstering his sagging career in the ring. Meanwhile, Hizuru begins her own brand of self-discovery though self-mutilation, from relatively mild tattoos and nose rings to driving metal stakes into her flesh, until she looks like a vengeful goddess from Japanese mythology. What develops has to be one of the most bizarre, masochistic love triangles ever committed to celluloid. Kojima relishes ripping the rings from Hizuru’s flesh; Hizuru tenderly beats Tsuda into a bloody pulp; and Tsuda bashes his own head against the wall.
Constant comparisons to such distinctive celluloid experimentalists as David Cronenberg and David Lynch may give the uninitiated an idea of what to expect aesthetically and thematically from the works of renegade Japanese filmmaker/actor Shinya Tsukamoto, though as complimentary as they may be, the comparisons ultimately don’t do justice to the remarkably original and frantic essence of his hauntingly jarring cinematic nightmares. From the cringe-inducing, hyper-kinetic body horror of Tetsuo: The Iron Man to the creeping deliberation of Gemini, Tsukamoto’s intriguing body of work has isolated critics and audiences while building a strong fan base who share his technophobe paranoia and cyber-punk sensibility.
Born in Shibuya, Tokyo, in 1960, Tsukamoto found inspiration early in his childhood from the television series Ultra-Q. Making his directorial debut via Super-8 film around the age of 14, the future director later found creative outlet in painting and theater. Briefly putting… read more
The take on showcasing hatred and manliness as sensation that practically brings on physical transformations. Loved the turns the plot took, turning the protagonist into an antagonist, use of the women being at the center of the conflict and really being the most dangerous of the three. There's some camerawork that could be toned down but its insane how much emotion is drawn from Itchy and Scratchy violence.
This must be Tsukamoto's most dramatic and emotional work. Again, he plunges head-first into the world of psychosexual violence and terror to lay bare the horror of man's animalistic roots, and oppression at the hands of an unfeeling advanced urban capitalist society. In Tokyo Fist Tsukamoto plays the uptight pencil pusher Tsuda who works as an insurance salesman who suffers from insomnia and a frigid relationship with his girlfriend Hizuru. But when his old friend from high school, Kojima, who is now a professional boxer re-enters his life and tries to seduce Hizuru, Tsuda goes mad and begins training obsessively to become a master boxer, beat Kojima to a pulp, and win his girlfriend back. Meanwhile Hizuru develops her own fixation with extreme body modification and tattoos, and begins mutilating her own body. Like with the eponymous character in Tetsuo, all of Tsukamoto's characters undergo physical transformations, but in Tokyo Fist, these transformations are as much a product of their own actions as they are of the outside world. Their free fall into sadomasochism is ultimately of their own doing, and ruins them all in the end. My own relationship with this type of filmmaking is conflicted in itself. On a visceral level, these high-octane, graphic, kinetic films are highly enjoyable; after all, they appeal to that part of us that relishes in this sort of thing. But at the same time, these films are repulsive on a gut-level; beautiful but at the same time, the antithesis of beauty. One can only handle so much. Uncompromising, but acknowledges essential truths we must confront.