February 20, 2006
Directed by: Shozin Fukui
Written by: Shozin Fukui
Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: High
Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Medium
Key Cast Members:
Overview: Rubber’s Lover is one of the truly bizarre Japanese cyberpunk films. Rubber’s Lover is an extreme cyberpunk movie that includes a number of truly outlandish violence and sex scenes. Fukui’s entire message here is summed up well on his interview on the DVD, “Dominant power comes when mental anguish exceeds physical tolerance.” Truly, this is what this movie is about. Chances are, for most of you, this movie will be pretty much completely different from anything you’ve ever seen - which is reason enough to watch it.
The story concerns three scientists who are attempting to create psychic powers in their test subjects. They use a combination of customized psychotropic drugs and extreme sound wave patterns engineered to torture their test subjects into unimagined mental states in the hopes of surpassing their normal mental abilities. Unfortunately, their test subjects have a tendency to die gruesome deaths by exploding blood everywhere. The corporation funding the research has decided to pull the plug, and have sent Kiku, a low ranking finance employee (who is about to quit to marry the head manager) to relay the news. Two of the scientists go mad and decide to administer the torture treatment to the third scientist, Shimika, as their last hope for developing psychic powers. When Kiku she discovers their torture chamber, one of the scientists abducts and rapes her, and then includes her as a test subject. Shimika and Kiku join forces and try to escape but are captured again and are then subjected to extreme torture in hopes of increasing the speed of success.
Unfortunately for the scientists, they are successful. During the infamous “rubber suit” treatment, Shimika exhibits massive psychic abilities – so much so that he no longer needs the equipment to mentally attack his captors. There are various side characters in this including Kiki’s corporate slimebag fiancé, and an assistant chick who has a penchant for slapping test subjects.
The Visuals: The entire movie takes place in a few rooms, and from this perspective, its pretty amazing how realistic and unique a film can be made on such a small budget. The shots seem very well designed to make maximal use out of very meager special effects. Massive quantities of dry ice, blood and screaming make up the bulk of the visuals, but this ends up working in black and white. But what Rubber’s Lover gives you is an ever increasingly insane set of scenes. Whether or not you follow the meager plot, you’ll see some truly bizarre scenes. The weirdest has to be the sex scene near the end where the guy orgasms while ripping the screaming woman’s chest open while he’s watched by the laughing corporate slimebag.
The Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a Japanese Cyberpunk flick that gives you something different then Tetsuo, Rubber’s Lover is a decent choice. It doesn’t have the deep philosophical message that Tetsuo does, but the cinematography and crafting is done well enough that you will get the sense you are watching an art film versus a purely bizarre sequence of violent images. Truly, Fukui put out a far better film than one would expect given an almost non-existant budget. I had taken a point away for the constant screaming, which began to detract from the film after a while, but I finally decided this is sort of necessary screaming (mostly). All in all, Rubber’s Lover is well worth watching if you’re interested in understanding Japanese Cyberpunk as a sub-genre. Check out page 2 if you want to see more visuals - WARNING - some are explicit.
Tags: cyberpunk movie review RubbersLover