26th Oct2023

Rewind: ‘Tetsuo II: Body Hammer’ Review

by James Rodrigues

Stars: Tomorô Taguchi, Shinya Tsukamoto, Nobu Kanaoka, Sujin Kim, Hideaki Tezuka, Tomoo Asada, Iwata, Keinosuke Tomioka | Written and Directed by Shinya Tsukamoto

After kickstarting his career with 1989’s Tetsuo: The Iron Man, writer/director Shinya Tsukamoto returned to the Japanese body horror series 3 years later with Tetsuo II: Body Hammer – an unconnected sequel which takes its own journey regarding a man’s transformation into machine. The opening moments show the camera acting as an unseen character’s perspective, stalking an unnamed salaryman who gets killed after the unseen character holds out his index finger like a gun and fires it.

The story then cuts to Taniguchi Tomoo (Tomorô Taguchi), a married salaryman with a young son named Minori. Adopted as a child, Tomoo questions his unknown past and the reasons for his recurring nightmares. His world is turned upside down when two men kidnap Minori and inject the father with an unknown substance.

Feeling helpless by the horrific events, Tomoo begins working out to regain his masculinity and feel of use. As his rage builds and he feels the need to prove himself as a man, the lead’s aggressive actions result in destructive consequences that shatter the family. Key to this role is a marvellous Taguchi, capturing the character’s combative feelings through conveying a desire to give into his anger and the humanity of realising his horrific actions.

From the opening moments which depict this sequel in colour, Tsukamoto sets apart this work from the preceding film. This entry feels more polished compared to the industrial feeling predecessor, as it sacrifices a feeling of mood and tone in favour of a more noticeable narrative, leaving the scrappiness of the first film to be sorely missed. It still manages to be delightfully bizarre, especially regarding the practical effects depicting the body horror. What remains is an effective tale about trauma and whether one can rise above letting it define who they are.

***½  3.5/5


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