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Studio: IFC Films
Year: 2009
Cast: Eric Bossick, Akiko Mono, Tiger Charlie Gerhardt, Stephen Sarrazin, Shinya Tsukamoto)
Director: Shinya Tsukamoto
Release Date: August 2, 2011, 10:45 am
Rating: Not Rated for (violence, adult themes)
Run Time: 01h:11m:21s

“Dad, don’t worry…it’s just a scratch.” - Anthony (Eric Bossick)

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Following the original Tetsuo film was a tall-enough order, but this is the third entry and here's hoping we're in store for more of the same bizarre, machine-centric madness.

Movie Grade: B+

DVD Grade: B+

Tetsuo, The Iron Man, from way back in 1989, has retained a rather large, extremely loyal, cult following in the years following its release. In the film, director Shinya Tsukamoto crafted a wholly original, bizarre world full of hyperrealist imagery that was as bizarre as it was visionary. He followed that up in 1992, with Tetsuo II: Body Hammer, an even more bizarre, surreal trip that finds our hero becoming an even more advanced mutation. Now, after almost 20 years, and a few great flicks under his belt (Vital, Nightmare Detective), Tsukamoto chose to revisit his bread-and-butter franchise, resulting in 2009’s Tetsuo: The Bullet Man. Making its way to DVD courtesy of IFC Films, Tetsuo: The Bullet Man is more of the same loud, fast-paced action that we’ve come to expect from the other films in the trilogy, which is welcome news for Tetsuo fans everywhere.

Anthony (Eric Bossick) is an American working in Japan, and raising a family that includes his wife, Yuriko (Akiko Mono) and their young son, Tom (Tiger Charlie Gerhardt). When Tom is run over by a speeding car driven by The Guy (director Tsukamoto, himself), Anthony is enraged, and his heightened anger causes his body to mutate, transforming into black, living metal, eventually sprouting weaponry for added appendages. Seeking revenge, he initially comes across a group of hit men, but the emergence of a giant gun from his torso enables Anthony to easily dispose of them. When Anthony eventually uncovers the truth about his father, Ride’s (Stephen Sarrazin) involvement in his mutation, he becomes even more enraged, pushing his anger and new body to a level he never dreamed possible.

All of the Tetsuo films are an acquired taste, and The Bullet Man is no different. If you’re into very little story development, but a whole hell of a lot of dizzying, fast-paced imagery and heavy, industrial music that simply bombards the viewer at nearly every turn, than this is certainly for you. The Bullet Man is quite a bit more polished than the other Tetsuo films, though, with a slightly beefier budget and more-advanced special effects techniques at Tsukamoto’s disposal than in previous years. This flick still has that overwhelming gritty and grimy feel to it though, as the audience almost feels dirty, in a good way, once the end credits start rolling. Unfortunately, the film runs a scant 71 minutes, which is far too short when you’re (and Tsukamoto) having this much fun.

It’s clear, at this point, that getting Oscar-worthy performances out of his actors isn’t exactly first on Shinya Tsukamoto’s mind when he goes about making a Tetsuo movie. In The Bullet Man, the shoddy acting is actually exasperated by the fact that he chose to make this an English-language film. As a result, we get some oddly dubbed dialogue sequences, that are, nonetheless, mercifully few and far between. Dialogue is far from the first thing on Tsukamoto’s mind, as he is instead more concerned with providing his target audience with the audio and visual barrage that they’re no doubt clamoring for, going into this experience. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I’d love to see a fourth Tetsuo film sooner rather than later (at least sooner than the 20 years we had to wait between this and Body Hammer), and, given IFC Films’ awesome DVD treatment (at least on the technical front) of the movie, it’s probably that Tsukamoto has the backing of his U.S. distributor to make such a thing happen. The video here is simply stellar for a non Blu-ray release, and, given the director’s flair for the visual dramatic, to say the least, this is integral to the film’s success. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix is no slouch either, as it packs a hell of a punch, surrounding the viewer with ear-splitting sound effects and booming bass at all times. The only complaint is the near total lack of extras (we get the film’s trailer and that’s it), but maybe, just maybe, this can be made up for in an eventual box set of the Tetsuo films…wishful thinking, I know.

Chuck Aliaga August 2, 2011, 10:45 am