I was finally able to watch the “cult classic” Ichi the Killer the other day. Throughout the years I’ve been told that it’s a must-watch and that it’s an essential film for any fan of blood and gore. I loved director Takashi Miike’s 1999 memorably haunting film Audition and his awesome remake of 13 Assassins, so when an opportunity arose to sit through this 129 minute flick, I took it. I don’t regret watching the movie, but I regret watching the movie– I’m never going to get my 129 minutes back, ever.
Ichi the Killer follows a yakuza chief, Kakihara (Tadanobu Asano), who’s searching for his kidnapped boss, Anjo. Unable to find any solid answers, he resorts to cruel and unusual ways in order to get some results. Unfortunately for him, a rival, low-level gang has hired the help of a sexually repressed maniacal killer, Ichi (Nao Ohmori), to systematically take out the competition, or something along those lines.
This movie is not very good– I’m not sure what people see in it. Let’s break this down a bit. The blood and gore in the movie is nothing compared to Miike’s Audition– it’s there but it’s not as effective. The visuals seem to be thrown at the audience with no regard for story. That’s a major problem the movie suffers from throughout its bloated length. The violence in the movie is over the top and unnatural, and it feels like the director was just trying to shock and awe with little regard for a cohesive plot. That major shade aside, there is a cool torture scene that involves hot tempura oil and very sharp needles that’s worth watching.
All the characters in this film are despicable, and it also doesn’t help that they’re poorly fleshed out. The titular character, Ichi, is a broken, weird little human being that had no likeable characteristics. He was as sick and twisted as every other deviant he was dealing with. With a knack for getting off on physical abuse dished out to women, this dude is probably the worst of them all. Conversely, the only neat persona out of the whole bunch was Kakihara. He was legit a cool cat with a propensity for the sadistic things in life.
There really is nothing in the movie that I can think of as a plus. The convoluted story was difficult to digest. The cast of characters didn’t help the situation– you have no true protagonist and end up rooting for the movie to just end. Luckily, Takashi Miike has released other films after and before this disaster that are of higher quality, and for that he gets a pass. The director may get a pass, but this movie is still trash though. //Arturo Padilla