Ichi The Killer (2001)
If you are offended or freaked out by human mutilation, gore and gallons of blood in movies then do yourself a favor and stay far away from Ichi The Killer. Bordering on insanity and sado masochistic pleasures, Takashi Miike’s masterpiece made me feel extremely guilty for every minute I sat watching it. I felt my […]
If you are offended or freaked out by human mutilation, gore and gallons of blood in movies then do yourself a favor and stay far away from Ichi The Killer. Bordering on insanity and sado masochistic pleasures, Takashi Miike’s masterpiece made me feel extremely guilty for every minute I sat watching it. I felt my soul turning black as I witnessed men cutting their own tongues off, women taking punches to the face prior to being raped and people getting hot grease poured across their naked backs. This would be completely S&M porn had it not been for the thought provoking story that drives it all. Seriously, the theme of Ichi The Killer and the relationships between all of the players is the subject of many an online discussion. Taking a tale from manga to live action is always a ballsy move with many directors failing in the attempt. Takashi Mike owns this and Ichi The Killer is a film that should grace the collection of any gore fan, even if like myself you can only stomach a single viewing.
Yakuza boss Anjo has come up missing (assumed dead) and it causes a severing of the factions as his men try desperately to investigate his disappearance. It doesn’t help that 100 million yen has come up missing also which leads to rumors of him running away with a possible sweetheart.
The investigation is led by Kakihara, an insanely cold, calculating, sado masochist who is in love with boss Anjo for the pain he inflicted on him during his servitude. The one thing that stands out about Kakihara is his appearance, from the minute he steps onscreen it gives you an uncomfortable feeling. His mouth is slashed and held in place by two rings. His face has burn and cut marks from past tortures and his hair dyed blond. His creepy smile and aloof demeanor is accented by the torture victims we are shown in graphic detail and the disappointment in his enemies who cannot grant him the pain he desires. Tadanobu Asano played the part of Kakihara so well that it made me cringe whenever he was starting an interrogation; knowing that within minutes something was going to be cut, burned or pierced on the victim’s body.
Then there is Ichi, the boy who the movie is named after. Ichi is an insanely violent sociopath with a recurring memory of a school girl being raped as he watches on helplessly. the Ichi character is even more dangerous than Kakihara due to his manic state, since we know Kakihara methodically hurts and kills people. Ichi comes off as an innocent boy with a tick that cannot be helped, at times he is calmly talking only to be triggered into slashing off a limb, cutting a throat or gutting a victim to spread their entrails all over the floor. Nao Omori plays the bloody Ichi and is as convincing an actor as Asano. Though his screen time was not as much, he is equally as disturbing in his insanity. The other twist, which did it for me is that Ichi gets sexual pleasure from seeing his victims hurt. While Kakihara enjoys feeling pain, Ichi enjoys dishing it out.
If the goal of Ichi The Killer is to shock the audience, it does so better than any film I have ever seen. The gore has the cheesiness you may expect, but it is done so well that you will laugh at certain things but feel guilty about it later. You will cover your eyes, look away and wonder why you are even watching it. The direction has some very interesting techniques as Mike speeds up shots and slows down others, uses a red tint for certain scenes and a monotone imagery for others. The flashbacks are timely and do not confuse, the story is very well done and a lot is left to our interpretation. This is truly a masterpiece in the gore genre and despite being a bit hard to take (I sighed in relief when I made it to the end) it is a testament to great direction, writing, music and most of all acting.