Film: Tetsuo: The Iron Man
Tetsuo: The Iron Man
is a 1989 Japanese Cyberpunk film by cult-film director Shinya Tsukamoto. This, his third film, is an extremely graphic but also strikingly-filmed fantasy shot in the same low-budget, underground-production style as his first two films. Tetsuo established Tsukamoto internationally and created his worldwide cult following. It was followed by Tetsuo II: Body Hammer
and Tetsuo III: The Bullet Man
It follows the tale of a man who, after hitting a metal fetishist with his car, attempts to hide the mess by dumping the body into a ravine. To his dismay, he finds that the dead man is getting his revenge - by forcing the driver to transform into a walking heap of scrap metal.Not to be confused with that Tetsuo
or that Iron Man
This movie contains examples of:
- Actionized Sequel: Both 2 and The Bullet Man, according to Word of God.
- Animesque: The first film. To quote a YouTube commentator:
- All Just a Dream: The main character has a dream that his girlfriend turns into a machine-woman with a metallic penis that seems to be made from a vaccum cleaner. She then proceeds to rape him with it... and yes it is every bit as disturbing as it sounds.
- Arm Cannon: The second and third movies show that murderous intent seems to manifest this (among other things) if the hate behind it is strong enough. In reality, people who are capable of this were actually part of an experiment to create humans who could become living weapons.
- The Atoner: Dr. Ride in The Bullet Man.
- Bald of Evil: 2 features a whole gang of 'em, working for both Yatsu/The Guy/The Metal Fetishist and a Mad Scientist.
- Black and Grey Morality: The Salaryman and his girlfriend do not seem to act like good people, considering that their reaction to hitting a wounded man with their car is to dump the corpse (or not) in a ravine and have sex over where they dumped him, most likely with the body facing them, considering the angle we see it from. So that means that the Metal Fetishist should be better, right? Well...
- Body Horror: We have several shots of metal protruding through the protagonist's flesh, gradually mutating him into a man made of metal over the course of the film.
- Cultural Translation: The third movie has an American protagonist, but it is still set in Japan.
- Cyber Punk
- Death by Sex: See below.
- Deliberately Monochrome
- Downer Ending: The protagonist and antagonist merge together to form one organism and they will use their combined power to destroy the world, due to the last lines of the film. Also, for the Salaryman, he seems to have become fully submissive and under the control of the Metal Fetishist (although he may just be pretending to act like that just to avoid more pain).
- Driven to Suicide: In The Bullet Man, Anthony attempts this. It doesn't work.
- Double Meaning Title: Tetsuo is a very generic name in Japan, similar to John, representing the protagonist's saleryman life, and the word for iron is "Tetsu".
- Dull Surprise: Eric Bossick and Stephen Sazzarin in The Bullet Man. Both rarely show any sort of emotion throughout the movie.
- Extra Ore Dinary: The Fetishist seems to have power over metal, not just an ability to produce it from his own body. The Salaryman seems to discover this power too, and even briefly turn the tables on the Fetishist (it's hard to say for sure).
- Finger Firearms: Yatsu possesses one in Body Hammer.
- Gainax Ending: 2 ends with Tomoo (the Salaryman) walking with his family through a ruined city.
- Go Mad from the Revelation/Heroic BSOD: In The Bullet Man, Anthony loses it after learning about the Tetsuo Project. Complete with Laughing Mad and all.
- Gratuitous English: This◊ Bullet Man poster's tagline says "DESTROY WORLD".
- While the movie is in English, Yatsu shouts out some very Engrish-y terms like "COME ON COWBOY!"
- Human Weapon: Both the Salaryman and Yatsu in 2.
- Anthony and his son(s) in The Bullet Man. Turns out Dr. Ride (his father) created a Tetsuo replica of his dying wife. Then, he inseminates it, resulting with Anthony.
- I Have Your Wife: The bad guys kidnap the salaryman's son (and later his wife) in Body Hammer.
- Jitter Cam: A common criticism against The Bullet Man.
- Le Film Artistique: The movies are black and white (except the sequels), has a small budget, uses unusual film techniques and the plot is full of Mind Screw and very open to interpretation, if we add that the movies are Japanese (foreign for most of us, English speakers) the series fit the trope perfectly.
- Lipstick and Load Montage: The antagonist is shown changing his hairstyle, painting his lips, and putting on eye makeup before his confrontation with the protagonist.
- Mad Scientist: A character simply named "Mad Scientist" appears in Body Hammer. Yatsu himself is apparently one in The Bullet Man.
- Mind Screw: There's a reason why it is often compared to Eraserhead.
- Nightmare Fetishist: The antagonist is called "The Metal Fetishist". When he was alive, he enjoyed shoving bits of metal into his body.
- After the main characters run over him, the protagonist's girlfriend gets aroused. She later gets aroused when she shoves a knife into the main character's neck in hopes of killing him.
- Omnicidal Maniac: The Metal Fetishist.
How about turning the whole world into metal? You and me. And we can rust the whole world and scatter it into the dust of the universe. Our love can put an end to this fucking world! LET'S GO!!!
I don't want money. Destruction is all I need.
No, I'm not going to end it with a cheap shot like this. What I want, Anthony, is for you to show the stupid people of this world what life is really like. Brains and blood splattering. That's reality. Come on, destroy all of our lazy peaceful dreams. Awaken to your destiny!
- Our Zombies Are Different: His dead girlfriend is briefly brought back due to the antagonist's manipulation. Then he teleports out of her somehow.
- The woman who chases the protagonist on the subway seemed like one as well. In fact, since the antagonist dies, comes back, and infects the protagonist, one could almost see this as some crazy zombie flick.
- Primal Fear: The final battle of Bullet Man takes place in a crevice barely wide enough to turn around in, not to mention the other instances of claustrophobia in it.
- Remake: Of Tsukamoto's first film, The Phantom of Regular Size.
- The Right Hand of Doom: Almost every character in the movies end up sporting a big, clunky metal hand (or an Arm Cannon) at one point or another.
- Rule of Scary: Watching this movie can bring up many questions, such as "How is the protagonist able to live with all that metal growing out of his body?" or "How are the rocket jets in his ankles fueled?" or even "How is this even possible?" The answer to all these is because Shinya Tsukamoto hates you and does not believe in this peculiar idea you call "sleep".
- Silence Is Golden: As a nod to its Eraserhead influences, the movie has minimal dialogue.
- Stop Motion: The most common method of special effects. Somehow, the jilted movements make everything creepier.
- Surprisingly Good English: The Bullet Man's dialogue certainly counts. It helped that the script is translated from Japanese, not to mention this being (so far) the only film to feature Americans.
- Surreal Horror
- Take a Third Option: In The Bullet Man, Yatsu/The Metal Fetishist plants a bomb on Yuriko's necklace. He gives Anthony two choices: kill him or let her die. Anthony, realizing that either choices will drive him into destroying the world, forcefully absorbs Yatsu into his body, reverting him back to human form.
- Tank Goodness: Towards the end of Body Hammer, Tomoo, Yatsu, and the skinheads join together to form a giant tank-like thing.
- This Is a Drill: The driver's penis transforms into one of these. During sex with his girlfriend.
- Thematic Series: The movies all tell their own stories, but share several elements, including a saleryman turning into metal after encountering Yatsu, the metal fetishist; people turning into weapons and all end with the saleryman fusing with Yatsu, for better or for worse.
- Transhuman: Arguably, the protagonists. Sure, they become grotesque walking lumps of scrap metal, but as the films go on, they can sprout guns from their bodies, become giant tank things and crawl on walls.
- Two-Faced: Temporarily, one side of Anthony's face is completely transformed and inhuman in The Bullet Man.
- Unreadably Fast Text: Yatsu's slideshow in The Bullet Man.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: In The Bullet Man, Yatsu/The Metal Fetishist pulls this on both his mooks and the PMC pursuing Dr. Ride.
- Widget Series: And apparently it's weird even by Japanese standards.
- World of Symbolism: Some say the movie is about modern humanity's overdependance on machines. Others think it is a metaphor for homosexual awakening. There are probably many more theories out there.