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Tsukamoto, Shinya


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#1 Duke Togo

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 05:50 PM

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Shinya Tsukamoto
A Japanese sensation for independent film, and firmly rooted in cyberpunk themes, Shinya Tsukamoto has refused to abandon his independent sensibilities after thirteen feature films. His style remains as strong and distinct as it was in the mind-blowing Tetsuo: Iron Man. A true auteur with a seemingly endless supply of creative energy and ideas, as well as an accomplished actor.

Recommended Order:
  • Bullet Ballet
  • Vital
  • Tetsuo
  • A Snake of June
  • Tokyo Fist
  • Tetsuo II
  • Gemeni
  • Haze
  • Adventures of Electric Rod Boy
  • Tetsuo III
  • Nightmare Detective
  • The Phantom of Regular Size
  • Hiroku the Goblin


#2 Duke Togo

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 06:01 PM

I can only recommend Tetsuo, Bullet Ballet, and A Snake in June which is all I've seen, but his hit ratio has been perfect with me so far. While Tetsuo is wholly a cyberpunk affair, he seems to be branching off with everything following Tetsuo II. Bullet Ballet is a drama focusing on gun violence, and is considered by Tsukamoto to be his most important work. A Snake in June leans more towards a relationship gone stale, and manages to give proper respect to the subject while remaining unique to Tsukamoto's style.

His films are quite easy to find on DVD.

#3 bobham80

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 10:31 PM

Also do not forget his amazing acting role as the strong man in Ichi the Killer.

#4 Duke Togo

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 10:33 PM

YES, that was hilarious and unexpected. Is that the only collaboration he has done with Miike?

#5 Duke Togo

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 04:30 AM

Just finished everything on DVD by Tsukamoto. Here is how I rank them:
  • Bullet Ballet
  • Vital
  • Tetsuo
  • A Snake of June
  • Tokyo Fist
  • Tetsuo II
  • Gemeni
  • Haze
  • Nightmare Detective
  • The Phantom of Regular Size (first film, short version of Tetsuo)
  • Hiroku the Goblin
I cannot stress enough how great Bullet Ballet was for me, and it just comes together so well. It is the film he is most proud of for a reason. Vital was incredible, stunning, beautiful, and is the best way to gauge how far Tsukamoto's skills have progressed. After that he did the very nice short, Haze, the 5-director compilation film, Female, and the dabble in J-horror, Nightmare Detective 1-2. Many longtime fans seem to see everything after Haze as betrayal or selling out, and while that may be partially true you cannot deny that the man has range. Everyone is buzzing about his next project as if The Bullet Man is a code name for Tetsuo III, and that would shut quite a few people up.

It is frustrating to see him getting older. A major part of the experience for me was the way he stars in all his films with his very eccentric acting style. It is his micro-managing from the writing all the way to the performance level that give his films such a clear stamp of a perfectionist, and as we saw with Vital he was forced to let a younger actor play the protagonist at his own admittance of looking too old. The older he looks the less striking characters become, which is such a shame.

Here is The Phantom of Regular Size (1986) which was his first film. Yeah, it is basically Tetsuo, and yeah, so was Tetsuo II, but it is still a fun time. ;)



#6 DaveyJoe

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 10:50 AM

YES, that was hilarious and unexpected. Is that the only collaboration he has done with Miike?


He also had a hilarious cameo in Miike's Dead or Alive 2. That also happens to best one of Miike's best films, so if you are interested, I would recommend checking it out.

#7 tapdancindan

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 11:34 AM

I've only seen two of this wonderful directors films (Tetsuo and Tokyo Fist) and I must say, I'm oddly impressed. I had no intentions of ever really getting into him other than for a novelty sort of pleasure (which I did with Miike and now could care less for) but I'd say he's making his way into one of my favorite directors! A Snake of June is next on my list.
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#8 bobham80

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Posted 07 May 2009 - 09:24 AM

Tetsuo Three - Finally!

I still need to see Tetsuo 2, which I have on VHS and is also the only reason I am hanging on to my VHS player.

#9 tapdancindan

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Posted 07 May 2009 - 01:43 PM

A used store close to me has Tetsuo 2 for $15 and I've been debating on whether or not I should pick it up.
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#10 Lohengrin

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Posted 07 May 2009 - 01:56 PM

Which of his films do you recommend seeing next after seeing and loving Tetsuo: The Iron Man?

Kiss my ass


#11 bobham80

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Posted 07 May 2009 - 05:31 PM

Well Duke has seen them all and ranked them just a few posts above. I say trust in Duke.

#12 Duke Togo

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Posted 01 June 2010 - 07:34 PM

A few promising looking trailers for Tetsuo 3:



This slipped off my radar for a while. This will be the forth version of basically the same story, but I am really glad to see Tsukamoto is still willing to play the same role (The Fetishist, The Guy, etc.), I feel his particular look was always crucial to these films. I am already prepared to be rather disappointed by this latest effort. This is the Tetsuo In America Tsukamoto promised fans years ago, and it is an American co-production. The inter-webs suggest major compromise in story structure compared to the rest of the series, less abstract, more vanilla storytelling. I'm also concerned about the look of DV this time. It looked beautiful in Nightmare Detective and Haze, but here it looks much more like 60fps video in spots, though I will have to see the film to decide if it is appropriate. He has at least fulfilled his promise and can now move on to other things. I would love to see a few more along the lines of Bullet Ballet, A Snake of June, and Vital, but would also prefer he milk his striking mug for all it's worth as long as he can. He is just terrific in secondary roles.

SHINYA YOU ARE GREAT!!!
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#13 Duke Togo

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 12:02 PM

Tetsuo: The Bullet Man (2009): 4/5 (above average)

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Well, Shinya Tsukamoto has finally fulfilled his obligation to the fans, it has finally come out on DVD, and this Tsukamoto fan-boy has finally watched it. What we end up with is something that seems to try to appeal to the fans, and the mainstream, and those two directions just seem to cancel each-other out. It is both not a very good Tetsuo film, as well as not a very good conventional film, but still a fun time that reasonable fans can cope with. It now has an English speaking cast, and for whatever reason that comes off as unnatural and stilted. There is a hefty portion of the film dedicated to explaining how Tetsuo was created, and by the standards set by other sci-fi films that explore government conspiracies and terrible weapons of destruction, this felt rather ham-fisted. It felt like the film was taking a nap, and I got the exact same feeling when Tetsuo II added the origin of the two boys at the end. It is like he wanted the story to make sense to those looking for conventional narrative, but also wanted it to echo the plots of the first two, and it just didn't really work that well. Taking it in either extreme direction would've been much better than this hybrid, and I guess I just don't understand why the last Tetsuo film, which he is only making because he promised the fans, wouldn't be obviously better as a complete homage of the art-heavy original. To say it is only about marketing is to totally undermine that the first Tetsuo was an international hit that launched his career as a serious film-maker.

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That isn't to say it doesn't have its moments. If anything it is the more conventional segments that really shine here. That doesn't mean the plot or acting are stellar, but that the film stays consistently beautiful and interesting with lovely cinematography and production values. The sound quality and score both meet and perhaps surpass the originals, and the makeup effects of Tetsuo's transformation are much better this time around. His skin grows seemingly random formations of iron when he gets angry, but the iron actually decays and slowly falls off once he is relaxed, very cool idea. It is when certain characters start speaking and explaining that things come apart at the seams a little bit. This seems to be the risk when such an off-beat film-maker tries to direct something normal, and you can really see his limitations here. He doesn't really have much experience with normal, where when he goes for something like Vital it is clear he has been honing his craft for decades now. I think after seeing the two Nightmare Detective films and now this go in such a direction, that it is obvious Tsukamoto is interested in improving as a more conventional film-maker. I think this would've been far better a film with an all Japanese cast, no pop stars like we saw in Nightmare Detective, some of the blatant explaining replaced by vague suggestion, and a bit more of his weird Tsukamoto flair.

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There was a surprising lack of the stop-motion stuff from the originals, though it is most definitely there and looks better than ever. Instead he tries to let Tetsuo jumping around the room with wild camera movement carry the battle scenes, and there just isn't anything like the epic stop-motion bike ride battle through the city from Tetsuo II. Another aspect that was toned down significantly was the eccentric Tsukamoto moments. He was in the film, but we never really saw anything like the creepy stalking of the man in the tunnel with the POV shot, pretending to shoot him with a cocked finger, or the maddeningly repetitious buddy-buddy slapping of the doctor's shoulder. Tsukamoto under his own direction can create some unforgettable characters, and that just seems totally absent in The Bullet Man. I realize he is getting older, and his face isn't quite as striking as it used to be, but his personality was still sorely missed. All in all this film had aspects that were better than the first two, but missed too much of what made the first two international cult hits. I do recommend it, and it is ok as a Tetsuo sendoff, but just know what not to expect.

#14 mr.bagel

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 08:58 PM

I prefer Tetsuo: the ironman than the two others. Tokyo Fist is really good to!

Someone has ever seen Tokyo Gore Police? I like the work of Nishimura ! It remember me the late 80s japanese's cyberpunk movies with an pleasant ironic touch. If you'd liked Ichi the killer, you'll maybe like this one.

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#15 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 14 April 2011 - 10:30 AM

I prefer Tetsuo: the ironman than the two others. Tokyo Fist is really good to!

Someone has ever seen Tokyo Gore Police? I like the work of Nishimura ! It remember me the late 80s japanese's cyberpunk movies with an pleasant ironic touch. If you'd liked Ichi the killer, you'll maybe like this one.

My link


I've been debating buying Tokyo Gore Police for awhile (I see it for sale at quite a few places). Most of the reviews I have seen of it state that it is gore over substance like The Machine Girl. The trailer has me slightly interested though I wish some of the special effects could have been better. I just don't think it will be as good as Ichi the Killer.

Reading through this thread I see I will have to put Bullet Ballet higher on my get list.
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#16 Duke Togo

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Posted 28 July 2012 - 08:34 AM

The latest from Tsukamoto:



IMDb plot synopsis:
The story of a single mother who suffers from double vision; caring for her baby is a nerve-wrecking task that eventually leads her to a nervous breakdown. She is suspected of being a child abuser when things get out of control and her baby is taken away. -Anonymous


It was a 2011 release in Japan. He slipped off my radar for a while, probably due to my disappointment with the Nightmare Detective films and Tetsuo 3, but this looks promising. The vibes I'm getting from that trailer are much closer to Bullet Ballet or Vital. I hope that is the case, I've been worried about Tsukamoto's direction.

#17 Duke Togo

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Posted 28 July 2012 - 10:02 AM

Found a little more info here.
Kotoko is about a young mother suffering from double vision, who is on the verge of a nervous breakdown after caring for her baby. With singer Cocco in the lead role, making her big-screen debut.

Just like Shion Sono’s Himizu, the film was awarded at Venice in September 2011 – the prize was even given by Chinese director Jia Zhangke! – and has received rave reviews from enthusiastic critics, some calling it a “cinematic experience“. That marks Shinya Tsukamoto’s true comeback after the terrible & messy Tetsuo The Bullet Man.

With Kotoko, Tsukamoto seems to continue what he started with Vital & Nightmare Detective – at that time, he was finally reaching the mind era, after having played for years with the flesh – as a way to express horror, frustration and craziness…

In other words, the director is working on this intriguing “new” thematically stage, where the mind has no boundaries – knowing Tsukamoto’s usual visual madness, that can only be interesting. To go further, read this interview with the director.

The film will be released in Japan on April 7, 2012. Kotoko will also come out in UK theaters in August, before the UK DVD & Blu-ray release in October!


So it was actually a 2012 release, and that DVD isn't all that far away. The linked film review and Tsukamoto interview are both worth a read. I am loving what was said in the interview, as it really makes it seem he is back on the same path he was following with Vital. He seemed to detour after that film, and it was always strange to me because I considered it a major career peak. I still need to see Kotoko, but I'm much less nervous than I was with Tetsuo 3.

Here is that animated short he did for Ca' Foscari Cinema mentioned in the interview:






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