While Anthony is slowly transforming into a living metal beast, Anthony's son is killed by a mysterious man who hits him with his car. With these new gun-blasting chunky powers (or weaknesses) Anthony goes on a rampage to find the man who killed his son.
Everyone who has been masturbating to "Tetsuo: The Iron Man" for years now have been excited about this new film. Of course, the excitement came with certain fear. An American "Tetsuo"? Why? How? Certainly, we've all had the thoughts, but knowing Shinya Tsukamoto was behind this film calmed me down. As you might have read a few times before, I think Tsukamoto has a close to flawless filmography. Even his bad efforts are good movies. I couldn't ever think "Tetsuo: The Bullet Man" was gonna be a bad movie, only that it would be a lot worse than the two originals. Making this film a US production did most likely contribute on a few of the things that dragged it down. Ignoring all the things that I personally feel came with it being an American production (I will list some later), this is a very good addition to the series.
Unlike the first movie, this one works much harder to get you to understand the story, and actually has an one unlike the very open original. Most of it is really just an excuse for a guy to transform into a chunky mega-gun who goes out for vengeance, if you ask me. That's not to say that Tsukamoto didn't make a good story, it just means that the story became secondary to me, and I just wanted to enjoy this insane ride. We don't need to understand why he transforms, do we? Putting all the explanations aside, this film comes packed with action scenes and lovely effects that make us remember why we fell for the first one. If you remember the changes between "Tetsuo: The Iron Man" and "Tetsuo: Bodyhammer" then you won't be surprised with this one either. In fact, it's more like the original than "Bodyhammer". Personally I think all of them are great movies in their own ways.
The simplified understanding of the plot feels like a way for Tsukamoto to please the American market because even in his more mainstream films he doesn't work too hard on explaining things. He still knows how to make it work, though. Knowing Tsukamoto's earlier work, I know he always has a fantastic cinematography and look of the movies, but this one basicly felt like a typical digital low budget movie, which is a shame and it makes me wonder why he decided to do this. I assume it was either to save money and make more extraordinary action scenes, but part of me also think it could have been the producers. In some shots it works, in most it doesn't. As far as a digital movie goes it does look good, ignoring the often annoying hand-held camera. Next thing is the dialogue - even the American/English actors seem to struggle with the language. Luckily the acting is still good (especially from Tsukamoto himself - he is, as usual, a badass) and manages to keep the movie away from being awkward. Why the English speaking actors couldn't handle lines I don't know, but this was the biggest problem with the movie. To sum it up - I think this movie would've been a lot better if it was made in old fashion Tsukamoto spirit - in Japan, for Japan, by Japan. I have a hard time believing the American producers didn't have a go at the film. But even though the flaws sound harsh, they never make it a bad movie.
I commented slightly on the effects above, and they do indeed look much like the ones from the original movie. Slightly sharper and clean and maybe less like iron, sure, but be happy they didn't just slap CGI on it all. I always look forward to seeing how the metal "mutant" will end up looking (so far my favorite has been from "The Phantom of Regular Size") and this one was a pleasure to watch - huge as a motherfucker and completely bizarre looking. The part of the transformation I didn't like was when his head resembled something from "Transformers" (the old ones), other than that it looked just as trashy and odd as a "Tetsuo" always should.
It's a good movie if you enjoy these kinds of films. I don't understand why some "Tetsuo" fans bash it, but I would guess they expect another one like the first (or maybe they are just grumpy about the Americanization). It's still a Shinya Tsukamoto movie - completely insane, weird and most of all interesting. It's much better than his latest effort "Nightmare Detective 2", but doesn't reach the top of his career. That's a hard one to top anyway, so expecting this one to do so is just stupid. And please, don't let the US production fool you, he might have adapted the whole world of "Tetsuo" into a more mainstream environment but it is still a solid addition to the series. Oh, and Chu Ishikawa has to be the best soundtrack composer in the history of films.