A group of crazed scientists think they have discovered the key to create the perfect super human with psychic capabilities, in their experiments of injecting subjects with drugs. If only they could just get the dose right, but they are running out of time, and the investors want to shut them down. They are also running out of subjects, and one of the doctors has become addicted to the drugs they are using, so when a representative from Head Office appears to make sure things are wrapped up one of the team sees a perfect solution to their problem, it may not be ethical but all that went long ago when they started kidnapping people to experiment on, as long as they reach their goal, nothing else matters.
Cyberpunk, industrial noir, mad scientists, drugs, violence, fetishism,
Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)
Cast (in credits order)
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If you fancy having your brain raped by a visual assault on the senses then Shozin Fukui’s Rubber’s Lover could be the one for you. A psychotic Japanese Cyber-punk, Industrial Noir slab of ‘What did I just watch? I don’t know but it was really quite good’, this is not suitable viewing for anyone with a sensitive nature, but then if you are one of those people why are you on this page? Please go about your business and forget you saw anything! For those who do like a bit of weirdness which probes the boundaries of acceptable viewing however Rubber’s Lover really does excel as a visceral and perverse, hammer in your face experience, rather than a bit of light viewing for a Saturday evening. Sometimes bordering on high art, and other times making you question your sanity for garnering any enjoyment from it, this is a prime example of why I simply delight in just how out there Asian cinema can get sometimes. When I am building a draft for a review I like to sit down and write notes during a viewing, I usually end up with a set of descriptions, or even sentences ready to go into the review, in this case I found myself with three pages of disjointed words all of which lean towards fetishism, violence and mental health issues, so please bear with me while I try to get this in some sort of coherent structure.
I think part of the problem of trying to place Rubber’s Lover into a structure is there really was not one, not in a traditional sense anyway. Normally it is easy to track a plot even if the subject matter is a difficult one to write about. There is an underlying story however so I am going to go with that and see how much of this I can convey without sounding totally mad, because I have to admit I really got a kick out of this film. It came after a viewing of some lukewarm affair, I can’t even remember what now, and I thought OK put this one on, it is Asian it has got to be good, and it was, well I thought so anyway, but I digress. So the story to this is really quite simple, a group of scientists, I will call them this, they are not like any scientists I have ever known (not that I have ever met any, but you know), are trying to create some sort of psychic super-human, and they do this by capturing ‘subjects’ (read victims) and injecting them with varying cocktails of drugs, LSD, Ether, and some other stuff. They work in secret from a dirty old warehouse, and have a cosplay maid as an assistant who likes to sexually assault the subjects when they are not being worked on. On top of this one of the staff members like to film the experiments which go wrong, and after a subject explodes, the lead ‘doctor’ gets infected and becomes an instant addict to these drugs, and in the process goes quite mad, as do the rest of the staff; shown in the way one of them parades about in his underpants, does impromptu muscle demonstrations and rapes female investigators sent from Head Office. At one point the doctor declares to a potential victim ‘I’ll suck your brains out and fuck your empty head’. Things go really Pete Tong at this point, as the investors want things shut down and this bunch of loons so obsessed with their own potential miracle are having none of it, so in essence it is very similar to the old Frankenstein story (as interpreted by the Japanese).
While there is a sort of disjointed narrative to the entire piece many of the scenes are without dialogue, or very little, and have a distinctly primal nature to them, so we have a lot of screaming, and grunting and so on and so forth to express a series of different emotions. I also must mention this is filmed entirely in Black and White which gives the whole picture a sort of grimy dirty quality that almost makes you feel like you need to take a bath after watching. On top of this we have oddly surreal and fantastical visions on-screen for the entire running time, which are often brutally violent, or uncomfortably fetishised. To add to this, as in all cyberpunk offerings, the technology on offer is very crude and comes in the form of bizarre machinery and stuff which looks like it has been strung together from the local tip. It does not surprise me in the least that the director Shozin Fukui prior to directing his own feature-length debut Pinocchio 964,( a film which I promise I will review shortly), worked on the production team of cyberpunk opus Tetsuo, as there are some obvious similarities in the way this, his second feature-length effort, is shot and the overall aesthetic.
While the plot is erratic to say the least so are the production techniques employed on this feature, choppy editing and an onslaught of frenetic in your face visuals create a disorienting thrill ride of a movie, packed with all the punch of a concrete block being dropped on your head from a great height. There is no let up in pace as the story spins from one nightmarish scene to the next with the climatic scene being nothing short of mind-blowing, both in its levels of violence and purely primal quality. The gore is pretty explicit too, and even though it is shot in black and white this somehow gives it more of an impact. This twinned with a bleak industrial soundscape (think Throbbing Gristle) Fukui manages to reduce human life to simply mechanical function, resulting in a hellish view of flesh and scrap metal fused together by drug fuelled insanity. Adding to the marvellously degrading nature of this picture the narrative is highly charged with sexualised themes with many of the characters either being sexual aggressors, or violated in some way, be it reality based acts or metaphorically. With this moralistically nihilist approach to building up the story Fukui manages to construct something which refreshingly pushes all boundaries, thus making Rubber’s Lover compelling viewing for anyone who enjoys to be challenged in their viewing choices.
So there you go, Rubber’s Lover is not one for the faint hearted, but if you want extreme, this is about as close to the knuckle as it gets. Mind-blowing, however watch with caution. There are no messages of redemption in this Fukui’s second feature-length offering, raw and brutal, an unflinching study of the primal nature of man at its most degrading.