Director: Shu Lea Cheang
Starring: Maria Yumeno, Aja, Akira, Miho Ariga, Mash
Watching this movie, I was in two minds about whether it was porn masquerading as art, or art with a big dose of porn. The truth is that it defies description... its both ... lets call it cyberporn/art.
And that really is the whole idea.
As the movie explains;
"Established in 2016, Genom Corporation started out in the business of recycling retired replicants that worked in outer space. The replicants were recycled as nursing robots at first. But when replicants with cosmetic surgery appeared as porn actresses in a 24-hour live porn show on Internet TV, it created a mega-hit, which lead the company to become the world's greatest digital enterprise for sexual pleasure."
Note the word replicant is not coincidental ... the opening scene features an origami unicorn - an obvious reference to Bladerunner. In fact, director Shu Lea Cheang explains that IKU takes up where Bladerunner left off. But where Bladerunner features no sex, only love... IKU features no love, only sex.
Righto. The basic premise is that Genom corp are creating an IKU System - a system facilitating sexual pleasure by providing audio/visual data directly to the brain, allowing customers to reach orgasm without actual genital contact. However, this requires a vast amount of sexual data to be collected, and special replicants are tasked with this job.
Specifically Reiko, who has the ability to assume 7 different bodies (and I guess a cunning idea to introduce 7 different actresses to the story, as each gets a sex scene). Also Tokyo Rose, who is a virus, and so gets to infect a few different people (read: multiple sex scenes).
Like I said ... its porn AND its art. While the movie sure feels like a porn movie with a story wrapped around it, the story is anything but flimsy. In fact, there are many companies who have been working to create an IKU type system for quite some time. Sex is one of the most popular uses of any new technology, so the ideas involved are valid science fiction/cyberpunk.
Also, the director is actually a woman. Not that that precludes her from making porn, far from it - but it does go some way to explaining the aesthetic. What's more, the film is obviously artistic. The director gathered a hip, creative crowd of Japanese performers, artists, and pornstars in making this movie.
Which brings us to the sex ... mostly its softcore, although there were a few explicit moments, and there was a lot of oral sex that may or may not have been real. We also get all manner of sexual combinations and fetishes ... orgies, bondage, lesbians, gays, transgenders, threesomes ... even one scene where a couple is having sex in a room full of headless sex dolls. There's probably some symbolism in that!
Anyway, its all presented in multi-hued interesting locations, often with psychedelic lighting and camera movements. It's all quite trippy actually.
And while its not porn in the traditional sense, it is certainly erotic and the actresses are very attractive.
In summary, I liked it. After all, I love sex AND cyberpunk AND art. Where it falls down is that you wouldn't watch it as a porn movie, and you wouldn't watch it as a cyberpunk movie. It slips uncomfortably between genres, and can only be appreciated as a unique, erotic performance-art experience on film.
Twisted rating: 6.5/10
If you want to know more, there is a full back-story and futher information on the film's website, remarkably still online, at www.i-k-u.com.
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