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Tetsuo: The Iron Man
Directed by Shinya Tsukamoto
Produced by Shinya Tsukamoto
Written by Shinya Tsukamoto
Starring Tomorowo Taguchi
Kei Fujiwara
Shinya Tsukamoto
Music by Chu Ishikawa
Cinematography Kei Fujiwara
Release date(s) Japan July 1, 1989
France October 5, 1994
Running time 70 min.
Country  Japan
Language Japanese
Followed by Tetsuo II: Body Hammer

Tetsuo: The Iron Man (鉄男: Tetsuo) is a 1989 Japanese cyberpunk film by cult-film director Shinya Tsukamoto produced by Japan Home Video. This, his third film, is an extremely graphic but also strikingly-filmed fantasy shot in the same low-budget, underground-production style as his first two films. Tetsuo established Tsukamoto internationally and created his worldwide cult following. It was followed by Tetsuo II: Body Hammer (1992) and the upcoming Tetsuo: The Bullet Man (2010).[1]



The film opens with a man (called only "the man", or sometimes the "Metal Fetishist") cutting open a massive gash in his leg and then shoving a large threaded steel rod into the wound. Later, upon seeing maggots festering in the wound, he screams, runs out into the street, and is hit by a car. The driver of the car first known as the Japanese Salaryman (cult actor Taguchi Tomorowo) tries to cover up the mess by dumping the body into a ravine, but the dead man comes back to haunt him by forcing his body to gradually metamorphose into a walking pile of scrap metal. This process starts when the driver finds a piece of metal stuck in his cheek while shaving. He tries to remove it, but realizes it is growing from the inside. The scene shifts to the driver at his home, seemingly with no regard as to the assault of the woman, where he and his girlfriend are having sex. Later, the driver receives a phone call, consisting of nothing but him and the other speaker continuously saying "Hello?" to each other and thinking back to having sex after dumping the Metal Fetishist. The first of several highly stylized chase scenes starts with the driver pursued through an underground station by a woman whose body has been taken over by the Metal Fetishist. The next scene shows an exotic dancer with a probe who terrorizes the Salaryman. After realizing this is a dream, The Salaryman and his girlfriend have sex at his apartment and eat erotically. As she eats each bite given to her, he hears the sounds of metal scraping. The Salaryman suddenly discovers his penis has mutated into a gargantuan power drill. This is how his terrified girlfriend meets her demise. Now helpless to do anything, The Salaryman, now the Iron Man is suddenly paid a visit by the Metal Fetishist who uses his power to terrorize now only him, but turns his cats into grotesque metal creatures and comes in through the corpse of his dead girlfriend and shows him the vision of a "New World" of nothing but metal and fight each other. After the Metal Fetishist explains to the Iron Man how both of them became what they are, The Iron Man duels the Metal Fetishist once more. Seeing no way to win, the Iron Man and the Fetishist Merge into a horrific Metal Gestalt life form and agree to turn the whole world into metal and rust it, scattering it into the dust of the universe by claiming "Our love can put an end to this fucking world. Let's Go Get'em!" The duo charges by firing a fused gun and speeds off towards Japan. The film ends with the words "GAME OVER" as opposed to "The End" after the closing credits.


This was Tsukamoto's first movie to be shot on 16mm, all of his previous work being done with Super-8 cameras. The camera work was split between himself and Kei Fujiwara both of whom also play the roles of major characters. (Fujiwara has since directed several of her own films.)[2]

See also

  • Tetsuo II: Body Hammer
  • Tetsuo: The Bullet Man


  1. ^ Newitz, Annalee. ""Tetsuo: The Iron Man" Gets A Crazy English Sequel - Sdcc". io9. Retrieved 2009-07-24.  
  2. ^ Mes, Tom (2005). Iron Man. The Cinema of Shinya Tsukamoto. FAB Press. ISBN 1903254361

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