Shinya Tsukamoto is most famous for his two Tetsuo films, nightmarish tales of flesh fusing with metal in a hallucinatory metamorphosis that would give David Cronenberg pause. For Tokyo Fist, he leaves the technological t... more »ransmutations for a bloody bout with flesh, muscle, and self-mutilation, a domestic melodrama gone schizophrenic and emerging as a cyberpunk boxing picture: Raging Bull meets Eraserhead in an all-out sensual assault. Insurance salesman Tsuda (played by Tsukamoto himself) is a social zombie numbed by his deadening job and in a static relationship with live-in fiancée Hizuru (Kahori Fujii), but he is jerked out of his stupor when a former schoolmate turned pro boxer blows into his life. Kojima (the director's real-life brother Kohji Tsukamoto) bullies Tsuda and puts the moves on Hizuru, like a repetition of a decades-old cycle of aggression, but this time Tsuda turns to the boxing club to beat his body into a match for his once and future rival. Tsukamoto's vision of modern Tokyo is an alienated world of disconnected citizens repressing raw emotion under a social veneer of manners and passivity. Uncork the emotions, and faces are pummeled into bloody pulp, boxers broken in the ring, bodies ritually pierced and tattooed... and then it gets weird. The film runs down before the conclusion, but until then it's an unbelievably visceral ride. --Sean Axmaker« less
"Tokyo Fist shows the development of Shinya Tsukamoto's directorial skills. While Tokyo Fist still contains the brilliant, over the top visuals of the Tetsuo series(used to great effect in the boxing ring), he allows the camera and film to be calm, allowing story, thought and emotion to enter. There is strong character development in this one as the protagonists try to understand how one can feel and be alive in a cold city. Definetly not recommended for the squeamish as Tsukamoto has to no issue with placing the grotesque in your face."
It's not "Tetsuo", but good on its own merits
Dan Seitz | Somerville, MA, USA | 03/08/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Truthfully, I'm not sure what the other reviews are complaining about: "Tokyo Fist" is arguably more coherent than "Tetsuo", although it's hardly a finely tuned plot. Nor are the goings-on more extreme than in "Tetsuo." The tattoos and piercings are not "ritual"; in fact, they're pretty direct self-mutilation and alteration. I really don't understand why this is slapped with "Warning: Adult Content" labels, because frankly, the American cinema has seen much worse.
The "Fight Club" paralells people draw are also very misleading; first of all, the plots are nothing alike. This is more similar to "Tetsuo" than anything else. Second, this is in terms of direction simply a better film. It's obvious Tsukamoto sat down and thought hard about how exactly he wanted each shot to be presented, whereas David Fincher tried to assault the senses by NOT thinking. It's not as digestible to American audiences, but them's the breaks.
Tsukamoto's distinct directorial style (there's even a little stop-motion here) is better defined here, especially his use of color. His "video game" style is very much present here, and while it's not for everyone, if you're interested in being challenged, it's probably for you. It's also a good lead-in to "Tetsuo", although the same warning there applies here: if you haven't sampled of David Cronenberg, David Lynch and a few other "perverse" filmmakers, I'd step carefully."
garlandb | Ottawa, Ontario | 07/12/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Shinya Tsukamoto has definitely matured a great deal since Tetsuo. This is one of those movies that have a few really incredible moments and some not so interesting, slow moving parts. The 'good parts' of this film are very, very good though. The violence is very over the top and the makeup is quite grotesque. I find that the makeup in Asian films, although not as flawless as Hollywood makeup, is always tough to take. After a character endures a brutal beating (in this film the aforementioned beatings are sometimes self afflicted) their face is covered in blood and various horrible contusions, bruises, etc. While not an incredible movie throughout the climax, which is made up of a montage between the three main characters, is incredible. I'm not really sure who to recommend this movie to since it's not very similar to Tsukamoto's earlier efforts. It's one of those very original, very cool movies that you won't want to buy but will be very happy you experienced it."
Tsukamoto steps in the ring
brian j snowball | New York | 11/14/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Shinya Tsukamoto has improved significantly since his 1988 release of Tetsuo:the iron man. This film has shots in it that spin my brain around. The tone to this film is one of conflict, both physical and emotional. The two rivals are bonded by a faded vow that one no longer even cares about. When the other steals his fiance he soon begins to walk a path of vengeance. The final resolution is dramatic to say the least. Keep an eye on the way Shinya intensifies scenes by rumbling the shot about. If you are a fan and are not sure about this one, trust me it is his best so far. I really didn't like that they put some stupid anti-drug commercial on the DVD though, those kinds of things should only be on television."
One of Tsukamoto's best
Artos | Melbourne, Florida United States | 01/20/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"man this film was one hell of a ride. the cinematography was beautiful as always(the back & forth reel shots; the speeding shots throughout the city alleyways, reminiscent of Tetsuo & Bullet Ballet) the story was the director's best next to Vital, though i was much more impressed by the visuals particularly his intense imagery of boxing & all the ferociously shot scenes vigorously depicting men practicing in a boxing gym as if they're robots training for battle.
i was most impressed by Tsukamoto's brother's role in the film amongst the others. everyone delivered flawlessly, but he was beyond exceptional in playing the most mysterious character of the three. like i said before, the story was amazing & very unique, particularly the mystery surrounding Kojima & how the character serves as a bitter catalyst to the chaos that takes form around them.
the film was very unconvential & unpredictable, much like most of Tsukamoto's work & even though it is so story-driven, it still is one of the most abstract works the director has created. i really enjoyed how the characters of Tsuda & Kojima really looked a lot like eachother yet were, personality-wise, polar-opposites(yes, they're brothers in real life, but i think maybe Tsukamoto did that on purpose) the film feels a lot like it's one of the director's more personal works. it truly is a feast for the eyes & it lets people like myself feel good to know how great movies can be. it isn't anywhere as out there as the Tetsuo films, but if you are into them or any of Tsukamoto's work, then this is very worth checking out. i'd even put it up there as one of his top 3."