Two childhood friends meet eachother after many years apart. Tsuda is a quiet businessman who lives with his fiance Hizuru. Kojima is a boxer who begins an affair with Hizuru. When this is brought to Tsuda's attention, his fiance soon leaves him for Kojima. Tsuda now begins to train boxing while trying to get his fiance back.
"Tokyo Fist" is the last film of Shinya Tsukamoto that I can get my hands on that I haven't seen yet (not counting his segment in "Female"), seeing how "Nightmare Detective 2" and "Tetsuo 3" aren't out yet. I know very well why I waited with "Tokyo Fist" this long though. I'm not a fan of fighting movies and all that, and while I know I am stupid to expect a film by Shinya Tsukamoto to be like a normal fighting film, there was still something in me that kept me from checking it out. The interest was there obviously, since he has lately became one of my favorite directors, but I didn't hurry to watch it. But holy crap, I'm glad I did. "Bullet Ballet" has been my #2 favorite Tsukamoto film since I watched it, but "Tokyo Fist" has without a doubt taken that spot now, no doubt about it. I actually had to go back to my "Bullet Ballet" review to see what I had written about that, because "Tokyo Fist" is in many ways like that one, yet so different. One thing I said in that review however is something I HAVE to quote here, because the same has to be said; "you'll be blown away by his incredible ways to make the most standard type of movie interesting".
The story is about a businessman, Tsuda (Shinya Tsukamoto), his fiance Hizuru and an old mate of him, Kojima (Kôji Tsukamoto), a semi-pro boxer. Tsuda runs into Kojima on the subway after many years, and it doesn't take long before Kojima is in Tsuda's home, making passes at Hizuru. Tsuda later finds out about this and visits Kojima, something that leads to a smashed face and time at the hospital. Eventually Hizuru leaves Tsuda to be with Kojima, and in rage Tsuda decides to train boxing to be able to kill Kojima. Meanwhile Hizuru is going through a self-destructive process in her life, something that really tears on Tsuda as he doesn't want to see her change in the hands of Kojima.
What I really like about Tsukamoto is that his stories might be simple, but they can really fuck you over. This film is a good example, as it begins with an obvious bad guy (Kojima), but at the end of it all you don't know who to root for, or if you even should root for anyone. This is something we also experienced in "Gemini". It's something to praise him for, but it's also something that twists things up so much at times that you don't know if you care anymore, and that's obviously bad. If there is one bad thing to say about this film, that would be it. To quote a comment on IMDb, "interesting, but what's the point?". I wouldn't go as far as saying that there is no point, 'cause obviously I loved the hell out of the film, I would just need a few more goes at it to really let it sink in and understand it all better.
The thing that seperates this film the most from "Bullet Ballet" is the colors. "Bullet Ballet" was black and white, and "Tokyo Fist" is probably his most colorful film to date. This film is just as much about the intense visual experinence as it is about the story. It has some of the most beautiful uses of colors I've seen in a film for many years (with movies like "Red Velvet" rivaling it) and I even found myself wow-ing in the intro.
Effectwise this could be seen both as a masterpiece or as cheesy. You should know by now that Tsukamoto doesn't go for realistic effects as much as he goes for.. odd. This movie isn't THAT effect-heavy, but there are plenty of scenes envolving blood spurting out and massive face wounds, and these are far from realistic. Instead, it gives the movie a surreal feel to it. Should also add that I found every drop of blood in this film to be incredible for that very same reason.
Overall, "Tokyo Fist" amazed me. It's one of the best films by Shinya Tsukamoto, and it's an great experience. You could question his storytelling in some of his films, including this one, but I wouldn't go too far for that, because it's not what he is all about. I was hooked to this film from the first second, and it really only got better and better. It's a film for all the fans of Shinya Tsukamoto. A visually strong and intense fighting-drama with plenty of blood.