Animation Features Live Action Movies

Tetsuo II:
Body Hammer
Body Hammer)

Director – Shinya Tsukamoto – 1992 – Japan – Cert. 18 – 83m


The Iron Man Tetsuo is back… and this time, he’s got a wife and child – sequel to the cyberpunk classic was first released November 10th 1992, when this review appeared in Manga Mania.

On Arrow Channel from Friday, September 22nd.

Where Tetsuo: The Iron Man is shot in raw black and white, Tetsuo II: Body Hammer‘s bigger budget enables a thematic reworking with not only colour film stock but also vast improvements in special effects technique (although these retain the no-budget, hands-on quality that renders them so compelling). The sleazy sexual imagery is jettisoned, the terrorized salaryman (Tomoroh Taguchi again) paired with more respectable wife Kana (played by Nobu Kanaoka, Iron Man’s subway attacker) replacing the terminally randy girlfriend. The couple now have a young child.

Tetsuo II thus launches its attack on nuclear family rather than single salaryman, with the infant kidnapped (and subsequently rent asunder) before his eyes early on in the proceedings by muscle-bound heavies hailing from the local smelting factory (occasioning much imagery of both high fetishist body building and equally high temperature molten metal varieties). Once again, Tsukamoto himself plays one of the salaryman’s opponents, on both occasions wearing a vest marked with an “X”.

The palette is unexpectedly monochrome, moving between the blue of shopping malls and swimming pools and the yellow of childhood dreams and industrial interiors, with a penultimate sepia flashback passage (complete with highly charged parental pistol erotics whose unsettling paternal tuition recalls Peeping Tom, (Michael Powell, 1960) [“when the gun and you become one, you can kill the dog”] and eventual Oedipal crime).

The eponymous body hammer, fired into the hapless salaryman like the insertion of the videocassette into the stomach in Videodrome (David Cronenberg, 1983), subsequently causes his son’s kidnapping to trigger the salaryman’s mutation into a human weapon. The typically violent and visceral imagery that follows makes the ‘director’s cut’ of the eighties’ glossy Hollywood cyberpunk classic Blade Runner (1982), now out on video, look earthbound by comparison. Tetsuo II: Body Hammer is the nineties’ version, patching us inextricably Japanese-style into the gestating heart of the still-mutating man-machine.

On Arrow Channel from Friday, September 22nd.

This review originally appeared in Manga Mania.

Trailer (Tetsuo II: Body Hammer):

Trailer (both Tetsuo films Blu-ray reissue):

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