Japanese Title：鉄男 Tetsuo II Body Hammer
Romaji: Tetsuo II: Body Hammer
UK DVD Release Date: 08th October 2012
UK Distribution Label: Third Window Films
Original Japanese Release Date: 01st July 1989 (Japan)
Running Time: 83 mins.
Writer: Shinya Tsukamoto
Starring: Tomorowo Taguchi, Shinya Tsukamoto, Nobu Kanaoka, Keinosuke Tomioka, Torauemon Utazawa, Hideaki Tezuka, Tomoo Asada, Sujin Kim, Iwata,
Shinya Tsukamoto made a stunning debut with Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1988) which became a massive cult hit. It allowed him to explore projects beyond the indie scene which he came from and so, for his follow-up, he picked the more mainstream Hiruko the Goblin in 1990, a film based on a manga by a favourite writer of his. It was a success. In 1992 he went back to the film which made his name but with a bigger budget and bigger ideas.
Tomoo Taniguchi (Taguchi) is a salary man who lives a happy life with his wife Kana (Kanaoka) and their son Minori (Tomioka). Then his life is shattered when his son is kidnapped by a group of skinheads lead by a mysterious man (Tsukamoto) and a mad scientist who then target him for a series of experiments designed to turn him into a human weapon.
Tetsuo II: Body Hammer is classed as a reimagining of the first film. It uses the same ideas, actors and themes but broadens its palette by morphing from pure horror into, what Tsukamoto describes in an interview on the DVD extras, an urban action thriller. It is a choice which reaps rewards because the sequel feels totally fresh.
The first thing to note is the colour. Unlike the original which was shot in black and white, this was shot in 35mm colour. While the original felt brutal and oppressive, the colour here allows Tsukamoto a wider range of tones to explore his ideas. This world is close to our own with mellow blues and clean whites from the sun indicating safe havens but when things get really dark and the attacks and mutations begin those colours are replaced by scarlet sunsets, dark blues of towering buildings, stifling oranges from furnaces and harsh blacks from shadows bisecting the screen. The use of colour is vibrant thanks to the fact that Tsukamoto has worked on rebalancing them for this new release. While there may be colour what has not changed is the fact that the camera and visual effects are still insane.
Once again the world Tsukamoto envisions is one where the impersonal and unnatural nature of spaces, towering buildings and stretching corridors, swallow up characters. It is not uncommon to see character framed in window panes. There are places of danger like the abandoned factories and junkyards full of mysterious skinheads who train with construction tools around blast furnaces. Then there are the commercial areas of glass and concrete. In contrast, the family home is a happy bubble flooded with light, almost dreamlike when compared to the brutal environment outside, the camera sways gently around and zooms in on happy faces. It cannot last as the skinheads invade it and from this point on the darkness and energy pick up.