Red Tears 紅涙
Fantasy action splatter
2011, colour, 16:9, 87 mins
Directed by Tsujimoto Takanori (辻本貴則)
By Derek Elley
Tue, 08 November 2011, 09:15 AM (HKT)
A quirky mixture of martial arts and splatter that initially burns a slow fuse. Genre events, plus ancillary.
Uehara, Japan, the present day. A young man, Masaki, is wounded in the street, folded up in a wheelie bag, and beheaded in a warehouse. His girlfriend Hazuki Mika (Morita Ayaka) tells young detective Nojima Tetsuo (Ishigaki Yuma) that Mitarai Sayoko (Kato Natsuki), a young woman she once saw Masaki with, has something to do with his disappearance. The police, led by Tetsuo's maverick boss Mishima Genjiro (Kurata Yasuaki), are investigating three cases of headless corpses, and wonder if Masaki's disappearance is connected. Tetsuo tracks down the sweet Sayoko, who lives with her wheelchaired mother Masayo (Karin Yamaguchi), and falls for her. However, Mika has also been following Sayoko, and one night almost knifes her and her mother before Tetsuo intervenes. Meanwhile, Mishima has been privately hunting Yasuda Ranma (Nakamura Koji), whom he suspects is responsible for the three other murders. But his secretive behaviour makes Tetsuo suspect that Mishima himself is involved.
Action-splatter specialist TSUJIMOTO Takanori 辻本貴則 — who did the best episode in Eat & Run: 6 Beautiful Grifters 真・女立喰師列伝 (2007), with favourite actress MIZUNO Miki 水野美紀, as well as Killers (2002) and Hard Revenge, Milly ハード･リベンジ、ミリー (2008) — burns a slow fuse for the first hour of Red Tears 紅涙 (2011) before letting loose with the body parts and blood fountains in the final half hour. After an intriguing opening, in which a young man is literally folded up still alive inside a wheelie bag, the movie has the look and feel during its first half of a quirky but distinctly under-funded genre exercise. Sets are minimal (with a notably unconvincing police station) and there's a young cop hero who looks like he should still be at high school. There's a sense that the director knows what he's doing, but so far hasn't revealed his hand or spent much of his budget.
That all changes at the halfway mark, when a flashback clears up a nagging question and thereafter the movie slides into restrained Sushi Typhoon mode, with prosthetics and special makeup courtesy of none other than NISHIMURA Yoshihiro 西村喜廣 (Mutant Girls Squad 戦闘少女 血の鉄仮面伝説 (2010)). Tsujimoto, however, is more interested in old-style martial arts jazzed up with some modern wire-work than over-the-top splatter, and as the fangs finally come out there's one after another solid action sequence (staged by ASAI Hiroki 浅井宏樹) that blend humour and acrobatics into the mix.
However, Tsujimoto-as-cult-director is not the main event here. Instead, it's veteran action star KURATA Yasuaki 倉田保昭 — a regular in '70s and '80s Hong Kong movies, but probably best known for the more recent Fist of Legend 精武英雄 (1994) (vs. Jet LI 李連杰) and So Close 夕陽天使 (2002) (as the villain). At 65, Kurata still holds his own in several knock-down-drag-out fight scenes vs. NAKAMURA Koji 中村浩二, as well as growling his way through the role of a maverick, "lone wolf" cop who'll just as calmly brain an innocent party so long as it's for the greater good. Surrounded by a largely young cast — apart from fellow veteran YAMAGUCHI Karin 山口果林 as a nasty mum in a wheelchair — Kurata knows it's his film and keeps most of the best bits for himself.
ISHIGAKI Yuma 石垣佑磨 (from Tsujimoto's episode in Kill 斬～ＫＩＬＬ～) is OK as the shy young cop who falls for a suspiciously sweet young thing, but it's KATO Natsuki 加藤夏希 (Battle Royale II: Requiem バトル・ロワイヤルⅡ～鎮魂歌（レクイエム）～ (2003)) as the latter who almost steals the movie from Kurata in the final 20 minutes and agreeably sets the stage for a sequel.
The film is also known under the titles Monster Killer and Sword of Blood.
ContactSales: All Rights Entertainment, Hong Kong (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Premiere: Tokyo Film Festival (Japanese Eyes), 24 Oct 2011. Theatrical release: TBA.
Presented by Kurata Promotion (JP). Produced by Kurata Promotion (JP). Producers: Kurata Yasuaki, Horiuchi Masashi.
Script: Tsujimoto Takanori, Yonekawa Eiichi. Photography: Tsujimoto Takanori, Yuasa Hiroaki. Music: Yoshida Hikaru. Art direction: Kurokawa Michitoshi. Sound: Fukuda Shin. Action: Asai Hiroki. Martial arts: Suetsugu Ryuichiro. Special effects: Ishino Taiga. Prosthetics/make-up effects: Nishimura Yoshihiro.
Cast: Kato Natsuki (Mitarai Sayoko), Ishigaki Yuma (Nojima Tetsuo), Kurata Yasuaki (Mishima Genjiro), Karin Yamaguchi (Mitarai Masayo, Sayoko's mother), Morita Ayaka (Hazuki Mika), Nakamura Koji (Yasuda Ranma), Nagai Masahiro (Ozu Akihisa), Takashima Yoju (Yamamura Tatsuya), Masuno Takashi, Hayashi Yukiko, Uchigasaki Takahiko, Takatani Hiromi, Kadota Tsukasa, Takei Isato, Otani Tomoko, Ishijima Ryoichi, Kurita Masaaki, Ito Keita, Moritoki Satoru, Kitano Jun, Suzuki Yoshinori.