Fantastic Review: Tetsuo: The Bullet Man

By  · Published on September 27th, 2010

I don’t remember what happened to me. I know I’ve got a headache though. If it wasn’t the harsh metal bangs it was the harsh visuals of camera tourette’s. If it wasn’t those then it was the unusual and unnecessary decision to film in English dialogue when eighty percent of the cast doesn’t appear to speak it significantly well, nor a director that can tell that they can’t.

The third entry in Shinya Tsukamoto’s Tetsuo series about human/machine hybrids is a metallic seizure – and I don’t exactly mean that figuratively. Whereas the first film in the series was somewhat Lynchian in its obscurity and neglect of any kind of straightforwardness to the point that it came down to whether or not you were either going to be in the mood for a nightmare or not, this third film actually has a plot to service the incredibly frenetic camerawork and transformation into a metal beast – it just isn’t very good. And by “it” I mean “they” as I refer to the plot’s attempt to lead to a somewhat emotional payoff and the camera that I believe may have been strapped to the head of someone with an electrical current being shocked through his face.It begins with the murder of a businessman’s young son as he’s inexplicably run over, deliberately, by a faceless maniac. The excessive stress and anger that arises from the father’s experience having witnessed the death unleashes some sort of untapped physique-altering creature that is made entirely of steamy, rugged metal. Sort of a hulk-like figure made of boiler room scraps.

As the metal creature gradually starts to expose itself through the skin our hero gets a visit from his son’s killer, which begins a mystery into why he’s turning into a furnace and what his family’s true history is. As this unfolds he has it out a few times with a team of killers and military figures. I think the action sequences were entertaining. I don’t really know though, I couldn’t see anything. I’m sure the crew had fun watching it.

The real experimental part of all of this is the English dialogue, which really backfires, but I imagine only to native English speakers who notice how laughable all of it is. Each line written is so stiff, and each time it’s spoken there’s just no real softness to any of the moments intended to be emotional. Maybe this was an intentional vocal representation of the heavy metal, or maybe the other Tetsuo films are just as bad only Westerners never caught on because we can’t hear how stilted the dialogue is. Maybe this will be the film in the series that the Easterners enjoy more than the Westerners.

Overall the picture isn’t much different than what you’d probably expect if you’re somewhat familiar with Tsukamoto’s other low-budget films, it’s just this time we can hear just how bad the non-visual elements to the other films may be that go by unnoticed due to our own ignorance of a foreign language. If you feel in the mood to have someone put headphones on you and blast the sounds of an opening five seconds to a death metal song played on loop for 20 minutes while they shake your face in every possible direction and stopping only to ask if you love them (and then repeating) then give this third film in the Tetsuo series a shot. If you’re human then you can probably do without it though.

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