An American man living in Japan with his Japanese wife and their son is struck by grief when a mysterious man kills the young boy by running him over with a car. As this is a Shinya Tsukamoto movie this event triggers something in our hero, making him turn into a metal beast and he starts searching in his past to why this is happening all while trying to control the anger that is transforming him. Not so easy when your wife is demanding vengeance.
Yes, here we go again. The original is a frenetic masterpiece in black & white technofetish surrealism and while the sequel had a larger budget it actually suffered from having a slightly more coherent narrative. Some of the magic was lost as the scenario grew bigger and bolder. Tetsuo - The Bullet man goes back to its roots with a smaller scale which I liked but still does one big mistake. It substitutes the panicked, glorious kitchen sink mentality of the original with some sort of headache inducing frenzy, complete with camerawork that is just too much. Tsukamoto moves his camera like he is on the sugar rush from hell and I am certain that a lot of people will be put off by this. As soon as any sort of action starts there is instant migraine. Mind-blowing, soul tearing migraine. I spent the first half of the movie in a state of trance, trying not to get upset over this but suddenly I realized that I had gotten used to it. Or somehow during the process Tsukamoto discovered a pattern that your brain responds to better. I don’t know. What I do know is the fact that after this, Tetsuo - The Bullet man became a much more fun experience.
And then we come to another not so fun part. The fact that it was shot in English. I do not know the reason for this, maybe Tsukamoto has some sort of reason for it. But it doesn’t work. The American actors (per usual when it comes to non-Japanese actors in Japanese movies) aren’t particularly good. The lead actor does an ok job with the physical part of the role; the transformation into something that looks like it was ripped straight out of H.R. Gigers foundry in hell and left for dead fused to a concrete wall. But as soon as he goes for a bit of dialogue, you cringe, mostly for the fact that the dialogue doesn't feel "natural". The lead actress fares better but she struggles a bit with the English language, just enough to make you notice. And then we have Shinya Tsukamoto himself as the main baddie, not exactly fluent in English but strangely appropriate for the proceedings. Or am I just a bit more forgiving because it is the fleshmetalmaestro himself? This doesn’t really matter in the end, it is the same as with the weird camerawork - as soon as you get used to it (more accurately get sucked into it) you just go along for the ride. When The Bullet man takes on an entire swat team in his father’s house there is no going back and of course, things just get better and cooler as our hero continues to transform into something... more.
Tetsuo The Bullet man is a kickass movie that is a worthy part of the Tetsuo saga, even though it does not do everything right. I am glad that I did not watch this at a cinema; my head would most likely have exploded. It is much more suited to the small screen and those dvd subtitles are much needed. If you liked the previous parts you will most likely love this too but if you are new to this particular universe I recommend you start with the original. It is still the best one.