Copious amounts of blood characterize two Tokyo detectives’ hunt for a serial killer.
Monster Killer, also known as Red Tears, is a 2011 action horror by the director Takanori Tsujimoto. It’s a cheap low budget romp that offers a decent amount of gore but very little plot and is likely to leave the viewer ever so slightly disappointed.
The story involves two detectives trying to catch a ruthless serial killer. During their investigation it becomes clear that they are dealing with forces way beyond the human world. Besides having to track down a supernatural murderer with a penchant for beheading their victims, the younger of the two Tetsuo Nojima (Yûma Ishigaki) will also quickly learn some unpleasant home truths about his new co-worker Mr. Mishima (Yasuaki Kurata), as well as his recently acquired love interest Sayoko (Natsuki Katô), making the whole investigation much more problematic than expected.
Monster Killer is a fairly typical low budget affair that offers some cheap thrills in a form of action and bloodshed, but unfortunately very little else. The plot is so paper thin that you don’t even have to hold it against the light to see through it. In other words, there’s really not much of a story there to be getting on with. Most of the investigation consists of the very limited police force (seriously, this town seems to have about 3 police officers) sitting around the office, going through mindless small talk. This honestly happens so much that at one point I started to get some serious doubts on whether this film was ever going to go anywhere. While the fearless detectives do eventually apprehend the cold-blooded killer and there is an attempt of building a side story of Tetsuo’s new budding romance, which incidentally also links to the crimes, somehow at the end of it you are still left feeling like you just watched an hour and a half of fast forwarded unrealised ideas. Nothing really comes together in a satisfying manner, leaving you thoroughly underwhelmed as a result.
The performances given by the main cast does not do the sorry excuse of a plot any favours and watching Ishigaki negotiate his way through the role of Tetsuo and all his professional and romantic entanglements, is a rather painful task. There is just nothing sincere or believable about it and for the most part he looks like a 14-year-old who has borrowed his dad’s suit and is playing cops and robbers with couple of mates (which is kind of funny, as Ishigaki was in fact 29 when the film was made). None of the cast fare much better and Ishikagi’s romantic counterpart’s Natsuki Katô’s performance is pretty much just as cringe worthy viewing. The senior of the group, Yasuaki Kurata is perhaps a slight cut above rest as his moody blustering is at least kind of entertaining.
What did take me by surprise was the quality of the special effects as well as the fairly well-designed action sequences. The story, quite shockingly, begins with a beheading, which is a very decent example of such brutality, especially for a small budget production and for the most part, the same is true of the film’s other gore scenes. I have certainly seen a lot worse in films with a lot more money behind them. Not all the film’s special effects live up to the same standard and the ending with the rampaging vampire-demon is truly something ridiculous. I don’t know whether the production ran out of money or whether this was done for comical effect, but what we have is an actress in a cheesy rubber mask and even cheesier rubber monster gloves. Just. Simply. Terrible. However, what does save (as much as you can save something like this) the ending and the whole film in fact, is the fight scenes. It seems that a fair effort was put into hiring some semi decent stuntmen who seem to know a thing or two about martial arts. There’s none of the clumsiness of half-arsed hits and kicks that don’t even make contact that you often see in cheap films like this; these fights actually have genuine energy to them. The hectic editing does its part to help the scenes along, but the stuntmen involved are nevertheless some of the better talent involved in this project.
I can’t say I would recommend Monster Killer to anyone as I can’t quite imagine who the target audience would be. If you’re into cheap monster or action flicks, you might end up getting some enjoyment out of this, but slow pacing at the beginning of the film is likely to put you off. In general, my recommendation would be to find something better to do.