Sunday, February 6, 2011

Tokyo Fist (Japan; Shinya Tsukamoto, 1995)

  Love is a bloody business and Tokyo Fist just might be the bloodiest love-story ever to grace cinema screens. In true Tsukamoto style, this twisted tale of jealousy and revenge details the chaotic love triangle between two former high-school friends, Tsuda and Kojima (brothers Shinya and Koji Tsukamoto), and mystery-lady Hizuru (Kaori Fujii) who shamelessly jumps from one camp to the other, humiliating one after the other and eventually making them lose much face (literally). Kojima having followed through on pact made with Tsuda of pursuing boxing after graduation, he is now preparing for  an important fight. When Tsuda decides to start training, both for revenge and his belief that this will win Hizuru back, Kojima soon realizes that he's training for the wrong fight. Using urban landscapes and architecture in a consistently creative manner, as always Tsukamoto brings unstable characters to the edge of their own chaotic world, the sharp angles and distorted perspectives of buildings and interiors an extension of the characters' obsessions. In this case, it's boxing. Fast-tempo 90's techno is used during fights and training, supporting the quick and jerky cuts that make clear the frenzied state of the pugilists. And the God the blood. There may not be any guns in this film, but Tsukamoto really took to heart the fact that some people label their arms as such. Every punch hits like a twelve-gauge shotgun in the chest, a high-impact sound accompanying every hit, multi-hit combinations comparable to a drive-by shooting; not to mention the damage they inflict. Having watched this first thing in the morning, I can cheerfully say that Tokyo Fist is the most satisfying punch in the face to have ever woken me up.   

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