Saturday, February 7, 2009

Movie Review: Ichi the Killer (2001)

Ichi The Killer
Ichi the Killer
And what, exactly, does Ichi kill? Anything and everything that's he's told to, in excessively bloody and gruesome manga-style ways.

Kakihara is the flamboyant bottle-blond masochistic enforcer of the Anjo family of the Japanese Yakuza. When the boss goes missing, along with a young prostitute and the entire Anjo family fortune, Kakihara makes it his mission to find out what really happened. Some believe he simply took the money and ran, but Kakihara is sure that a rival gang is behind the disappearance. When news trickles down from the grapevine that Suzuki, the head of another family, is involved, Kakihara leads an assault and torture session. He finds out only that the information given to him was false, planted by those actually responsible. He also learns that the boss is dead, killed by the mysterious Ichi, none the less.

As punishment for their transgressions against another made man, Kakihara and the surviving members of the Anjo family are thrown out of the crime syndicate. With no rules left to break, there's no rules left to follow and they use this to their advantage, spilling gallons upon gallons of blood and guts to get their vengeance.

On the flipside of this exceptionally twisted coin lies Ichi The Killer, the utter sadist to Kakihara's masochist, an extremely disturbed mind-controlled assassin with seemingly superhuman powers, deadly boots and a leather BMX safety suit who dishes out punishment in ways never before seen.

Their paths are destined to cross sooner or later—the man who loves pain and the man who was born to dispense it—and when it finally does, we're given a genuinely fitting finale, although perhaps not the bloodbath we had been expecting.

Oh Ichi The Killer, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways: sex, drugs, music, blood, violence, torture, mutilation, hypnosis, mind-control, psychic twins, crooked cops, carnage, gore and so much more.

With the extreme—and I do mean extreme—depictions of violence and bizarre characters, the rocking soundtrack, fast cuts and music video camera shots, Ichi is by far one of the hippest imports to ever swim its way to America. Takashi Miike, you've done it again.

ALSO KNOWN AS: Koroshiya ichi

129 Minutes
Japan/Hong Kong/South Korea
Japanese (English dubbed and/or English subtitles)


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