Monday, September 08, 2008

Detroit Metal City

Toshio Lee | 2008 | 104 mins | Japan

It would be easy to file Detroit Metal City under "Japan is weird" and enjoy it exclusively on that level, but it's actually better than that. Sure, at times it's over-the-top, and the jokes are a bit hammy and repetitive, but the film seems to be in on the joke about 90% of the time, and the metal soundtrack is actually really good.

Someone asked director Toshio Lee who did the music for DMC during the Midnight Madness Q&A on Friday, but I think he misunderstood the question to be about the performers in the film rather than the composers. Later, a Japanese-speaking friend told me that the translator failed to relay his mention of Marty Friedman (ex of Megadeth, a long-time resident of Japan). If he was responsible for the DMC sound, I send him my kudos. That band should tour. Who cares if it's fake? Worked for The Monkees!

Detroit Metal City is based on the manga of the same name, and the film is apparently a pretty faithful adaptation of the first two (of six or seven) volumes. It tells the story of Souichi, an idealistic country boy who just wants to be a trendy musician in trendy Tokyo. Alas, life doesn't always turn out the way we hope, and the poor boy ends up in one of Japan's heaviest death metal bands, Detroit Metal City, as frontman Johannes Klauser II. He screeches about rape and murder to an adoring throng of fans, and the band's success soon gets so out of control that they're scheduled to have a face-off with international metal king Jack Il Dark (played by Gene Simmons).

Thanks to his heavy makeup and outlandish costumes, he's able to keep his alter-ego a secret from his trendy would-be girlfriend for a while, but soon his two worlds begin to collide, and Souichi must come to terms with the fact that even though DMC wasn't his dream, it might be a dream worth pursuing.

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