Remember that scary girl from Audition (1999)? Well, she’s back. She’s got a samurai sword. And she’s fighting freaky mutants on the mean streets of futuristic Tokyo. Over lyrical, sunny shots of a children’s playground, a little girl extols how she wants to be policeman just like daddy… until his head explodes in a shower of blood and brain-matter. Welcome to Tokyo Gore Police, the latest deviant co-offering from Nikkatsu Studios and American distributors Media Blasters, creators of The Machine Girl (2008).
Flash forward ten years where a samurai-styled SWAT squad storms a skyscraper hijacked by a chainsaw-wielding Rastafarian mutant. They riddle him with bullets, but the chainsaw fuses to his right-hand as he shreds skulls and splits open bodies in torrents of gore. A new mutant race called the Engineers, able to grow bizarre weapons from any injury, are starting to appear around Tokyo. Only the newly-privatised Tokyo Police Force can stop them, specifically Ruka (Eihi Shiina), super-strong and super-sexy in her swish trenchcoat, police tie and tight miniskirt slit to the thigh. She blows the bad guy apart with her bazooka and slices him into sushi with her samurai sword.
However, ice-cool Ruka is a tortured soul, haunted by memories of her father’s (Keisuke Horibe) murder, she slashes her wrists when nobody is looking. Only the big-hearted lady bartender (Ikuko Sawada), who raised her since then, shows any understanding, while her fatherly Tokyo Police Chief (Yukihide Benny) extols her to keep killing Engineers. Meanwhile, an elusive Engineer known as the Key Man (Itsuji Itao) is murdering people who exploit his kind, and leaving behind a mysterious fleshy key. Victims include a high class madam who pimps underage girls. He siphons her blood into vials and packages them with her dismembered corpse in a neat, little box swiftly sent to the police.
Ruka goes undercover and tracks down the Key Man, leading to a show-stopping alley fight, wherein he rips open his face to spray her with blood, then shoots eyeballs like throwing stars that pin her to the wall. Suddenly, he produces a flesh-key that unlocks her mutant flesh… Ruka is an Engineer! Slowly, Ruka pieces together the past tragedies that bind her life with this mutant serial killer, pondering which side to take when fascist police and vengeful Engineers turn Tokyo upside down.
Yoshihiro Nishimura, special effects supervisor on The Machine Girl, does triple-duties here as director, editor and creator of gore and creature effects. The end result tops even its splatter-heavy predecessor, with cheerful atrocities and sexual perversity including a villain whose jet-spraying blood allows him to fly, an off-duty cop who gets his genitals chomped off during oral sex and returns with a fleshy shotgun mutant-penis, and a freaky fetish club where rubber clad patrons of all shapes and sizes ogle sexy Engineer strippers like a snail girl, a woman with crocodile jaws for a lower half and an extraordinary human chair that sprays urine over cheering spectators.
For all the sick, twisted stuff on display, the storytelling is quite sophisticated and borderline avant-garde at times, recalling the extreme anime efforts of Go Nagai or Hideshi Hino. Indeed the samurai-styled police chief who keeps a leather-masked Engineer girl as a limbless sex slave, is a dead ringer for the main villain in Nagai’s Violence Jack (1986). Also lookout for the hilarious scene where the Key Man recounts his origin story by means of a kami-shibai, or “paper theatre”, a nice nod to a traditional Japanese entertainment famous for its outlandish cartoon violence.
A few scenes drag on far too long into needless posturing and there remains a sense this is catering too obviously for Western tastes with nods to Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop (1987) and Starship Troopers (1997) in its jabs at crass commercialism. Television spots feature bubbly schoolgirls selling trendy razors for kids to commit suicide or extol the virtues of joining the police. What works better is the growing sense that the Engineers are far more human than the violence-loving cops who are urged by a sexy, scantily clad blonde DJ (Stephanie Sheh) to “kill, kill, kill!”
The film is actually a remake of a Nishimura’s earlier independent effort, Anatomia Extinction, but here benefits from a typically intense performance by Eihi Shina. She also looks lovelier than ever, lit and framed like a pop samurai heroine from the 1970s when she dons a rainbow-coloured kimono half-shirt and satin hotpants ensemble for undercover work. But gropers beware! She chops off hands with her red umbrella-sword and lashes out with her crocodile glove puppet hand (long story…). The fight choreography by Taku Sakaguchi is top-flight stuff and even though the plot essentially amounts to Ruka realising something we already know (“A police officer should defend citizens!”), the splatter-violence endured by assorted innocents makes us stand up and cheer when she finally mutates into a bio-mechanical avenger. In its own freaky, gory way, this is really upbeat about Japan’s future.