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Archive for November 2nd, 2012

Bullet Ballet (1998)

TV commercial direction Goda arrives home from work one night to find the police and ambulance personnel outside his apartment. He discovers that his partner Kiriko has committed suicide with a bullet to her head. She was looking after a gun for a friend. Finding it difficult to cope with her death, Goda becomes obsessed with buying a Chief’s Special gun – the same one that Kiriko used to kill herself. He scours the streets of Tokyo asking some dodgy people if they can sell a gun to him. Down an alley he bumps into Chisato, a gang member who he rescued when she tried to fall into the path of an oncoming subway train. Trying to talk some sense to her, he is beaten up and robbed by Chisato’s punk friends. Determined even more now to get a gun to extract revenge on the punks, Goda’s obsession spirals out of control……..

From Shinya Tsukamoto, the director of Tetsuo: The Iron Man comes this movie about two people linked together by ideals and tragedy. With a title like Bullet Ballet, you probably expect to see a story with a lot of gunplay involved and whilst it does have some bullet action it is far from being that type of movie. Shot in black and white, the movie showcases a barrage of fast jolting cuts and grainy handheld photography. Tokyo’s seedy underworld is captured in detail here and the dank locations with images of cold metal pipes gives the city a menacing feel to it. The cinematography creates a vision of urban Tokyo that is unique and well….dare I say it hellish! The story itself is of a man losing his mind as he tries to understand the reasoning behind his partner’s death and his revenge mission against a gang led by a young man named Goto who has robbed him but at the same time he feels a connection with Chisato, a member of the gang who seems to have a death wish as she plays a dangerous game with a subway train. The two seem to have a complex relationship based on looks and glances with very few words exchanged between them. Goda feels that as he failed to rescue his partner from her fate, he sees in Chisato a person to care for and try to help from her self-harm tendencies. I enjoyed watching the interaction between the two of them.

Tsukamoto did more than just direct this movie as he also plays the lead character Goda and shows not only he’s a talented director but an underrated actor as well. Goda cuts a tragic figure who was happy in his life before the unfortunate event that happened with his partner. It seems to have made him snap. Sometimes there are images of Goda imagining himself firing a gun and we see images of war flashing onscreen such as buildings being flattened and bombs destroying battlefields. In Goda’s mind he thinks that firing a gun will do these kind of things – of course it’s completely unrealistic. Kirida Mano who plays Chisato is quite hypnotic. I don’t know if it’s was just the look she had which included a short leather black skirt she was wearing that showed her wonderful legs or that she was attractive but I thought she was very alluring!!

Surprisingly many Tsukamoto fans were disappointed with this movie when it first came out. Perhaps they expected it to be a wild ride like Tetsuo and thought when they saw the trailer it was going to be like that because of the style and look of the movie. Personally I prefer this movie to Tetsuo.

Even though this movie is rather depressing and bleak, I quite enjoyed it and I wanted to see where the relationship between Goda and Chisato would eventually lead to. If you’ve liked Tsukamoto’s previous movies I’m sure you will like this as well.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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