Born in 1960 at Tokyo, Shinya Tsukamoto is a Japanese director who has worked on a number of films that are actually considered to be cult classics. He’s among one of the most notable directors in Japan and has even featured as an actor for a couple of films including Takashi Miike’s Ichi the Killer, Takashi Shimizu’s Marebito and even Hideaki Anno & Shinji Higuchi’s Shin Godzilla.
“In exchange for board and lodging, lightning-fast samurai Mokunoshi is helping out in the everyday lives of a couple of local farmers. To keep in shape, he trains with bright farmer’s son Ichisuke, while sister Yu furtively watches them. When the ronin Sawamura (played by director Tsukamoto) suddenly appears, asking Mokunoshi to go on a mission in Edo, and at the same time a bunch of bandits are lurking on the edge of the village, the peaceful existence of the three comes under threat.”
“A man awakes to find himself trapped in a dirty, confined crawlspace. He barely has enough room to move. He also has no memory of why he’s there, or why he’s bleeding from a stomach wound. Apparently drugged, he occasionally ‘zones out’ of his surroundings as he tries to edge towards his way to freedom. But the more he explores, the more pain he has to endure, and the more frightening his predicament becomes.”
ADVENTURES OF ELECTRIC ROD BOYPlot Synopsis via Third Window Films, April 2020
“Hikari is a boy who is bullied at school because he has an electricity pole growing out of his back. One of his classmates named Momo comes to his rescue and he thanks her by sharing his secret possession with her: a time machine. Activating the time machine transports him 25 years into a dark, dystopian, world of the future. There he encounters members of the Shinsengumi Vampire Gang who are hunting a woman named Dr. Sariba who is revealed to be Momo’s future self. He and he alone must save the world.”
Shinya Tsukamoto has created a variety of films from various genres throughout his career. Starting with the science fiction cyberpunk experimental horror Tetsuo: The Iron Man and Tetsuo II: Body Hammer to many more including Tokyo Fist, Bullet Ballet, A Snake in June, Kotoko and also a remake of Kon Ichikawa’s Fires on the Plain. Many of his works have been brought over to the UK, some of which were re-released thanks to Third Window Films.
As of 1st May 2020, UK distributor Third Window Films has released a fair amount of Tsukamoto’s works on Blu-ray but there was still a fair amount that they hadn’t yet touched. So far they have released all of those films I mentioned above as well as this new collection released very recently for the United Kingdom and Ireland territories. Over in the US, his films weren’t readily available until Arrow Films announced a box set called Solid Metal Nightmares: The Works of Tsukamoto which contains all of the films that Third Window Films have released in addition to the 2004 film Vital which still remains with Tartan Video until 2023 according to the distributor. Never-the-less, the discs are basically the same with some minor differences (primarily audio commentary).
The first title included in the Tsukamoto collection is the 2018 film Killing (斬、, Zan), the latest work that Tsukamoto himself directed and is the highlight of this collection. Killing was also screened at the 75th Venice International Film Festival. The second addition is the 2005 film Haze (ＨＡＺＥ), a direct-to-video film that was previously released in the UK by Terra World Cinema on DVD back in 2006. This is the first time the film has been released on Blu-ray in the UK. And the third addition is actually a re-release of the 1987 short film The Adventures of Denchu-kozo (電柱小僧の冒険, Denchu Kozou no Boken), also known as Electric Rod Boy. This short film was included in the first print edition of the Tetsuo collection back in October 2012 from Third Window Films, but the difference here is that we have a new transfer so the quality on this release will be much better than before. Considering the Tetsuo collection’s first print edition is out of print, this is a nice second chance for those who had previously missed out on the release.
As I had previously mentioned with my post on the Toshiaki Toyoda collection, Third Window Films still remains to be one of my favourite distributors in the United Kingdom due to their unique preference on the titles that they acquire from Asia. Their recent acquisitions over the years have been more towards Japanese films and it’s a good variety. Examples include Osamu Tezuka & Eiichi Yamamoto’s Animerama collection, Shin’ichirô Ueda’s cult classic 2017 film One Cut of the Dead, Toshiaki Toyoda’s Blue Spring, Macoto Tezka’s long-lost 1985 gem The Legend of the Stardust Brothers, and a variety of remastered Pink films from directors like Atsushi Yamatoya, Masao Adachi and more. Third Window Films have also released films from iconic directors like Eiji Uchida (Lowlife Love), Sion Sono (Love Exposure), Takeshi Kitano (Hana-bi) with plans to release the late Nobuhiko Ōbayashi’s 2017 war film Hanagatami, Ujicha’s experimental Gekimation anime films from 2013 and 2018 with Burning Buddha Man and Violence Voyager, and Seiji Tanaka’s directorial debut 2018 film Melancholic.
First Print Edition & On-Disc Contents:
Distributor: Third Window Films
Released: 27th April 2020
Putting the focus back onto Shinya Tsukamoto, the three films I mentioned – Killing, Haze, and The Adventures of Denchu-kozo – are part of a collection called Tsukamoto. This collection has been presented in a limited first print edition Blu-ray set offers unique artwork and a slipcover. Like One Cut of the Dead, it will eventually get a standard edition if the first print sells out.
I should also point out that this is also one of the very first UK releases to use the newly-updated designs from the British Board of Film Classification. The logos look pretty similar to the designs used during the 90s but with some additional touches. I actually quite like them and while some folks will be annoyed by consistency, video-games were like this before so I can’t argue.
The films are spread across two Blu-ray discs; one disc dedicated to Killing, and another disc dedicated towards both Denchu-kozo and Haze. No English dub was ever produced so all of the films are presented in its main Japanese language with English subtitles. The white subtitles are unlockable during playback and each Blu-ray disc is compatible with Region B only after testing them. Each film also features audio commentary from Midnight Eye writer Tom Mes, who has written a number of pieces about Japanese cinema and has offered audio commentary with previous Third Window titles.
|Audio||Killing (Disc 1):|
Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Denchu-kozo & Haze (Disc 2):
Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
|Video||Killing (Disc 1):|
1080p High Definition Native format
16:9 (1.78:1) aspect ratio
Denchu-kozo (Disc 2):
1080p High Definition Native format
4:3 (anamorphic 16:9) aspect ratio
Haze (Disc 2):
1080i High Definition Native format
16:9 (1.78:1) aspect ratio
Blu-ray On-Disc Extra Features:
Disc 1 (Killing):
- Audio Commentary with Tom Mes (Japanese cinema expert over at Midnight Eye)
- Killing Trailer
- Director Shinya Tsukamoto Interview
Disc 2 (Denchu-kozo & Haze):
- Audio Commentaries with Tom Mes (Japanese cinema expert over at Midnight Eye)
Tsukamoto: Killing / Haze / Denchu-kozo is available on Blu-ray from Third Window Films for the United Kingdom and Ireland. You can order the collection on Arrow Films official website and on Amazon UK.