×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Bullet Ballet

Japanese maverick Shinya Tsukamoto's customary obsession with man driven to extremes in a hostile environment gets a routine retread in "Bullet Ballet." The director's tighter, more visceral previous films --- notably "Tetsuo," its sequel and the more recent "Tokyo Fist" --- have consistently found an international cult niche. But while some may respond to the new thriller's brooding B&W visuals and its spasmodic bursts of hammering violence, most followers of the director will see it merely as more of the same.

Japanese maverick Shinya Tsukamoto’s customary obsession with man driven to extremes in a hostile environment gets a routine retread in “Bullet Ballet.” The director’s tighter, more visceral previous films — notably “Tetsuo,” its sequel and the more recent “Tokyo Fist” — have consistently found an international cult niche. But while some may respond to the new thriller’s brooding B&W visuals and its spasmodic bursts of hammering violence, most followers of the director will see it merely as more of the same.

Depicting Tokyo as a violent dreamscape through which the protagonist drifts in an aimless, frustrating search for revenge, the film centers on Goda (Tsukamoto). Mourning the loss of his lover of 10 years (Kyoka Suzuki), he obsesses about the reasons for her suicide and the ways in which he may have contributed. Attempting unsuccessfully to procure a gun, Goda begins wandering the streets at night, encountering Chisato (Kirina Mano), a street-gang floozy whose cohorts promptly give him a trouncing.

Maintaining a highly erratic grasp of plot, the script repeatedly throws Goda in the path of the street gang, but he is unable to connect with the target of his revenge. His attempts to kill the gang leader result in failure and, rather repetitively, in further brutal beatings, while his increasing self-loathing prompts suicidal urges that he is also too impotent to act upon.

Gradually, however, an odd connection forms with Chisato, and when her life is endangered in inter-gang warfare, Goda steps into the fray.

Tsukamoto weaves in elements of metal, machinery and mutilation familiar from his other films, this time in a less frenetic style that exposes the weaknesses of the fragile narrative and impenetrable characters.

But the director nonetheless sustains a chilly, disquieting mood with his choppy editing and a cranked-up soundtrack of hard, metallic noise.

Bullet Ballet

(THRILLER -- JAPANESE -- B&W)

Production: A Kaijyu Theater Co. production. (International sales: Gold View Co., Tokyo.) Produced, directed, written, edited by Shinya Tsukamoto.

Crew: Camera (B&W), Tsukamoto; music, Chu Ishikawa; production designer, Tsukamoto; costume designer , Hiroko Iwasaki. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Perspectives), Sept. 4, 1998 . (Also in Toronto Film Festival --- New Beat of Japan.) Running time: 98 MIN.

With: With: Shinya Tsukamoto, Kirina Mano, Tatsuya Nakamura, Takahiro Murase, Kyoka Suzuki, Hihashi Igawa.

More Film

  • Gone With the Wind Screening

    Film News Roundup: 'Gone With the Wind' Sets Event Cinema Record

    In today’s film news roundup, “Gone with the Wind” sets a new record, “Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles” is acquired, and Tracy Oliver signs with Topic Studios. EVENT CINEMA RECORD The 80th anniversary release of “Gone with the Wind” has grossed $2.23 million in six nationwide screenings On four dates — a record as the [...]

  • Made in Abyss - Journey’s Dawn

    Film Review: ‘Made in Abyss: Journey’s Dawn’

    It’s a Herculean effort to take a multi-volume manga like author Akihito Tsukushi’s “Made in Abyss,” adapt it into a popular anime television series, and then compress the show into a coherent feature (technically, two movies), but the folks at Sentai Filmworks have done just that. Part one, “Made in Abyss: Journey’s Dawn,” will screen [...]

  • HAF: 'Assassination,' 'Apprenticeship' Named Project Market

    HAF: 'Assassination,' 'Apprenticeship' Named Project Market Winners

    Eighteen prizes were presented on Wednesday afternoon at the closing ceremony of the Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum. The project market sits alongside FilMart as part of the Entertainment Expo in Hong Kong. “Wong Tai Sin Assassination” to be directed by Wong Hoi and produced by Derek Kwok Tsz-kin, was named the winner of [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Writers Guild Makes Concession on Film Financing in Agent Talks

    The Writers Guild of America has made a concession in film financing in its negotiations with Hollywood talent agents — the second in six weeks of talks. WGA West executive director David Young said Wednesday that it had made a “significant move” toward reaching a deal with the Association of Talent Agents for a revamped [...]

  • Noah Centineo He-Man

    Noah Centineo to Play He-Man in 'Masters of the Universe' Reboot

    From a boy (who’s loved) to He-Man. Noah Centineo is in talks to take on the superhero in Sony Pictures and Mattel Films’ “Masters of the Universe.” Brothers Adam and Aaron Nee are directing the reboot. Mattel Films is partnering with Sony on the movie, which is based on Mattel’s beloved toy line that spawned [...]

  • Disney Fox Takeover Placeholder

    Disney, Fox Employees Grapple With Day One Transition on Two Hollywood Lots

    What kind of a boss will Disney be? That’s a question facing employees at 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight, National Geographic Partners, FX Networks, and other assorted parts of Rupert Murdoch’s former media empire. Wednesday was their first full day as staffers of the Walt Disney Co. and the initial moves have done little to [...]

  • Derek Tsang Hong Kong actor Derek

    'Better Days' Director Derek Tsang Lands in World Cinema Spotlight

    Hong Kong actor-director Derek Kwok-cheung Tsang has recently found himself in the spotlight of the world of cinema, but for the wrong reason. Tsang will be joining a Hong Kong filmmakers panel at FilMart on Thursday with Sunny Chan (“Man on the Dragon”) and Pang Ho-cheung (“Love in a Puff”). The 39-year-old filmmaker was expecting [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content