Is Yoshihiro Nishimura’s Tokyo Gore Police the God-tier outlandish Japanese splatterfest of 2008? The 2000s? All-time? A large portion of my college years was spent devouring Asian exploitation cinema thanks to Netflix’s vast subgenre catalog (Dead Sushi, Vampire Girl Vs. Frankenstein Girl, Attack Girls’ Swim Team VS. The Undead), but Nishimura’s body-modded story of revenge is the pinnacle of futuristic grindhouse magnificence. Mutations, half woman/half alligator attackers, flesh-stretched human chairs spraying golden showers – this movie tops my batshit “You gotta’ see this!” list. Hence why it’s an easy pick for this month’s Asian Horror themed Drinking With The Dread.
Audition’s Eihi Shiina plays Ruka, a young “Engineer Hunter” in dystopian Japan’s privatized police force who’s simultaneously tracking her father’s killer while battling mutant rebels known as “Engineers.” You see, codename “Key Man” has developed a virus that mutates humans into “Engineers” who can sprout weapons from their wounds. It’s Ruka’s job to eliminate all “Engineer” threats with extreme prejudice, but her side quest for violent redemption leads to troubling discoveries. Even worse, a face-to-face with “Key Man” causes her own “Engineer” infection. Ruka becomes what she hunts, now genetically equipped to slay all those who’ve wronged her. What doesn’t kill you grows back even stronger and with added firepower!
No need to sanity check: you’re reading everything correctly. “Key Man” grants people the power of bio-enhanced immortality by planting his key-shaped tumor into their bodies, thus creating Terminator hybrid death machines from regrowing tissue. Get shot in the eye? A cybernetic blaster sprouts back. Lose an arm? Now you’ve got a jagged claw instead. Lose your naughty bits mid-battle? Guess who’s got a massive crotch cannon, now! Tokyo Gore Police is one of those movies you attempt to describe at parties only to go unbelieved by listening ears, but I promise you, weirdness levels are OFF THE CHARTS in an unmistakably emphatic way.
Even better, the “Gore” in “Tokyo Gore Police” is paid and honored in full by Nishimura’s effects butchers. Do you want grotesque, gruesome, and gut-punch nastiness? Blood thinner than water sprays like sprinklers from arm stubs where hands were once attached. Bodies pull apart like smoked meats (drawn and quartered scene), are physically desecrated, and surgically enhanced in fits of kinky modification. Weapons made of muscle pulsate, sheen a slimy membrane glean and protrude like nightmarish implants with Cronenbergian appeal. As Japanese exploitation films go, Tokyo Gore Police is the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to pervasive disgust and copious amounts of icky genre mess-making.
While I’d love to launch into a paragraph detailing the tremendous political and social commentary in Nishimura’s shock-a-minute squealer, honestly, is that why you’re watching a movie titled Tokyo Gore Police? Please. You’re viewing for the multiple decapitations. Actual piles of discarded corpse limbs. Oddly sexualized violence as undefined liquids squirt from holes poked in certain characters. Japan’s concept of off-the-wall exploitation remains rich in cultural absurdity, remaining one of the most identifiable and on-brand forms of international genre cinema. Go big, go home, go bonkers insane. I’m pretty sure that’s their national motto?
Highlight moments include but are not limited to:
- That one perfect shot as Ruka walks away from a screaming, bleeding creeper; her umbrella protecting from red droplets of sanguine rain.
- “Swords for legs and arms” slave.
- Fair representation in terms of male/female genital mutilation (yay equality!).
- Gore, gore, more gore, and then even double more gore.
- All the body-mod weapons – blaster eyes, animal combos, regenerated ferocity.
- Japan’s ability to keep us guessing.
- Did I mention the gore?
- Happy birthday!
- Definitely the gore.
Keep a washrag handy so you can wipe all the blood, bile, and spit-take booze particles from your screen, because this month’s Drinking With The Dread gets super sloppy thanks to Tokyo Gore Police. Here are the rules:
- Take a drink whenever you hear the word “Engineer.”
- Take a drink every time you witness head trauma (decapitation/split open/Glasgow Smile).
- Take a drink every time copious amounts of blood spray from bodies (gusher status).
- Take a drink, honestly, whenever someone watching with you has a “WTF” reaction.
- Take TWO drinks whenever an Engineer wound turns into new weaponry.
- Take TWO drinks every time Ruka’s father is referenced.
- Take a SHOT when the sex club crowd gets that sweet golden liquid sprayed on them!
There’s no way to write about my love for Tokyo Gore Police without sounding clinically insane, so I’ll lean all the way in at this point. A toast to all those discovering Yoshihiro Nishimura’s 2008 sicko spectacle for the first time, and bless your blackened souls. May your stomachs be strong, tolerance for bloodletting be unflinching, and appreciation of Japan’s finest cinematic forms of the utmost disregard for civility. Prepare to cringe, howl, and stammer “SWEET MERCIFUL SATAN!” until your brain explodes in either euphoric hack-’n-slash carnal bliss or pedestrian unpreparedness. Most of all? Have a monster’s freakin’ ball of a time.