Tuesday, March 17, 2009

TOKOYO GORE POLICE and the End of Nature

The natural world has come undone in Yoshihiro Nishimura's TOKOYO GORE POLICE, a film that posits a world in which bodily ripping, tearing, and evisceration creates the possibility for perverse, grotesque modification. These modifications blur the organic with the technological to the point where the two seemingly can't exist without one another. The natural world as we are accustomed to knowing it no longer exists, and appropriately, the filmmakers place the action in blighted, industrialized landscapes--dead buildings, dead concrete, dead industries.

These settings seem to suggest that our familiar technologies have played themselves out and that we have nowhere left to go but into the human body itself. Pain no longer truly exists--at least not entirely--as characters can survive terrific wounds, using them as opportunities to modify their bodies, coming back more lethal than ever. Paradoxically, these new bodily technologies make us more primitive, the film seems to tell us. The film's protagonist, Ruka, serves on a privatized police force that battles "Engineers," criminals whose use of these technologies make them all the more psychopathic and enraged.

The sexualized imagery of the film becomes particularly striking because human reproduction, as a part of nature, does not seem to have a place in this world. Rather, Engineers "reproduce" by passing on a small, phallic tumor that opens the organic body like a key. Once implanted, transformation takes place, and people find themselves reborn in grotesque fashion. One minor character exists as nothing more than stretched skin whose sexual organs spray orgiastic party-goers with fluid--presumably urine, though in this film, one can never feel too sure. In fact, TOKOYO GORE POLICE shows us bodies that have shocking capacities for spraying fluids, mostly blood. These absurd scenes (too many to count) appear strangely beautiful, as when Ruka cuts off the hands of a subway pervert and walks away with an umbrella shielding her from the blood that rains down on her.

As a whole, the movie comes across as (most of the time) an inspired nightmare right out of Donna Haraway's now seminal "Cyborg Manifesto." At other times, it seems to fall into goofy, Troma-styled splatstick. Apparently, there is a companion feature, MACHINE GIRL, which I have not seen but seems to promise more of the same.


Heather Santrous said...

Hi! Thought I would let you know that I have nominate you for the Premio Dardos Award. If you would like to know what that is about, here is my post about it. Hope it explains it for you.


The Headless Werewolf said...

Thanks for passing along the award, Heather. I'm flattered that you thought of me!