×

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

  • Lucas (Jonah Hauer-King) and Bella (Amber)

    China's Bona Film Boards Brad Pitt's 'Ad Astra,' 'A Dog's Way Home' (EXCLUSIVE)

    China’s Bona Film Group is co-financing Brad Pitt space adventure “Ad Astra,” one of several films in a strong slate of international movies the company plans to release in the Middle Kingdom over the next year. Bona has also acquired Roland Emmerich’s war spectacular “Midway” and is investing in “A Dog’s Way Home,” the sequel [...]

  • Aquaman 2018

    Film News Roundup: 'Aquaman' Sets Pre-Sales Record

    In today’s film news roundup, “Aquaman” sets a pre-sales record, “Bohemian Rhapsody” hits a milestone, and SAG-AFTRA promotes four executives.  PRE-SALES RECORD “Aquaman” has set a pre-sales record for Atom Tickets, topping “Deadpool 2,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” and “Black Panther.” “Clearly, ‘Aquaman’ has captured the attention of movie fans with its larger-than-life adventure that must [...]

  • 'Liga' Kicks Off At Ventana Sur's

    Ventana Sur: 'La Liga' Kicks Off at Buenos Aires' Animation!

    Spain’s Quirino Awards, Argentina’s Animation! and Mexico’s Pixelatl Festival, three key events in Ibero-American animation, will join forces to create La Liga (The League), as announced Wednesday at an Animation! round table hosted by the Quirino Awards, titled “Iberoamerican Alliance Models.” Speakers included Quirino Awards promoter José Luis Farias, Mexico’s Pixelatl director José Iñesta, Gonzalo [...]

  • The Quake Review

    Film Review: 'The Quake'

    Roar Uthaug’s 2015 “The Wave” revived the pleasures of the 1970s disaster-movie cycle in a form that seemed purer than the never-quite-dead genre’s recent Stateside incarnations — most of which seem to involve Dwayne Johnson in a generic pileup of CGI perils. “The Wave” wasn’t high art, but it was entertainment that delivered some standard [...]

  • The Mule trailer

    Film Review: Clint Eastwood in 'The Mule'

    From Dirty Harry to … dirty grandpa, Clint Eastwood certainly has a type of character that he plays best, and “The Mule” finds him squarely in his comfort zone, appearing as a surly old horticulturalist who, at age 90, has become perhaps the most reliable drug runner for the Sinaloa cartel, evading detection for nearly [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content