on 4 July 2010
Ichi The Killer is probably one the most misogynistic, violently graphic and sadomasochistic films around. In some ways this film could be considered absolutely deplorable; there are scenes of extreme torture, both men and women are horrifically beaten and killed, and the film openly mixes sex and violence. But where 'Ichi The Killer' grabs you is in identifying with the extraordinary characters. Kakihara, (really the main character within the film), is probably one of the best screen villains you'll ever see. He is quiet, yet delivers vengeance to others with no mercy, his sadomasochistic inner self lives for pain and is constantly looking for someone to take him to the next level of pain. The other main character is Ichi, a young socially immature man who suffers from past experiences of high school bullying. By manipulating Ichi's inner rage and hatred for all bullies, a member of the Yakuza has converted Ichi into the ultimate killer. The main storyline within the film revolves around the assassination of the head Yakuza boss, the search for his killer (who Kakihara believes is Ichi), the power struggle within the gangs to take his place, and the knowledge that somewhere along the line Kakihara and Ichi's paths will meet. If you can get past the bloodshed and violence, then Ichi The Killer is an enjoyable and visually startling film.
on 6 October 2003
A slick and sick piece of live action Manga from Takashi Miike, the sort of guy you wouldn't employ to video a baptism.
I first saw Ichi at the London Film Festival a few years ago, having been a fan of Audition and Dead or Alive, and couldn't believe my senses. Leaving the cinema I made a beline for the bar. On DVD, the film looks tamer, and having been cut by three minutes or so, it's not too surprising. Various scenes are shorter than before (beatings, torture, rape etc.), and the most notorious scene (which, for prudence sake, I won't describe here, but comes near the end just before the detective dons his dog-ears - fans of the film will know what I mean), actually this last scene made me feel pretty queasy when I saw it in full, so I confess I don't really miss it that much, although it does screw with the continutiy. Confusingly, the commentary track refers to the uncut version and seems to have been edited slightly to account for the gaps. This is particularly odd when the protagonists are discussing a scene which 'a lot of people had problems with' and you're watching a pair of gangsters standing by a door.
Having said all of that, Premiere Asia have done a stirling job with the DVD, after all, it's not their fault that the BBFC took the scissors to the movie and it's obvious that they have made a effort to compensate for this. This two disc set is well presented and features plenty of bits and bobs to keep you occupied. The commentary is quite entertaining, although Bey Logan's knowlege of Japanese cinema isn't a patch on his knowlege of Hong Kong movies and he makes up the lost time by flirting with Alien Sun. More amusing than informative (unless you want to flirt with Alien Sun, of course).
Summing up: fun film, good disc, shame about the cuts, but I'd probably be covering my eyes at those scenes anyway...
on 8 June 2003
At the Toronto premiere of Ichi The Killer, sick bags were handed out to the audience as part of the promotion. And for the weak of stomach - sick bags may be warranted. This is a frenetic film packed with images of rape, violence and gore that could be distressing for some people. However, it is important to remember that this is based on a manga comic, and the entire film is made in a very comedic way. Ichi The Killer is a great movie with an absolutley brilliant cast and some of the best direction and editing Miike has done yet. The film is shot magnificently: the stark contrast between the purple suits of Kakihara and the black raiment of the Yakuza, or the beautiful interiors of the Yakuza apartment all make it aesthetically breathtaking, before showering the audience with insane images of blood and violence. "Audition" is the only Miike film that is superior to this film, in my opinion, and they are so different in style and theme that they are impossible to compare. But when it comes to yakuza films, Ichi beats DOA, City of Lost Souls, and the Shinjuku Triad movies. This is extreme cinema at its very best.
on 1 February 2006
In its uncut form 'Ichi the Killer' is one of Takashi Miike's most intelligent and provocative films. Miike has a knack for challenging cinema in the literal sense; movies that make the viewer question his own motives. And the complete 'Ichi' sure does that. For most of its length it hurtles along a twisted yakuza fantasy tale, admittedly graphic and perverse, but broadly comic and so cartoonish in its violence that it's impossible to take seriously. Every now and again, though, there's a scene of such offputting nastiness that you wonder why you find any of it enjoyable. It's highly disturbing watching, and Miike just keeps rubbing your nose in the dirt.
Unfortunately, it's these most extreme scenes that the censor has snipped (over 3 minutes of them, an almost unprecedented amount of cuts). So you're allowed to coast through -- comparatively speaking, of course; it's still not for the faint of heart -- with little more than an awkward giggle or uncomfortable squirm. The edited Ichi does really feel like a violence fetishist's jack-off material, and it also feels like a largely vacuous exercise. Cutting those crucial minutes where Miike really does go too far -- quite deliberately -- not only removes the point of the movie, it turns it into exactly what the censors were afraid of in the first place.
Oh well, plus ça change. See the uncut 'Ichi' if you can. Even the animé version has more of the intended spirit of the material.
on 26 February 2008
"Ichi the killer" is a brutal film featuring lots and lots of gore. Kakihara, a sadistic Yakuza enforcer is searching for those responsible for his boss' brutal slaughter. The man responsible is Ichi, a pathetic but deadly loser being manipulated by a man named Jijii. Jijii uses hypnosis, implanting false memories of a childhood plagued by bullies, to get Ichi to kill Yakuza, whom Jijii says are also "bullies". Jijii's motives are never explained. The film culminates in Ichi and Kakihara (who is actually excited at the prospect of being slaughtered by Ichi) coming face to face. This is a film you must have in your collection.
This edition is the best release of "Ichi The Killer" currently available. It is fully uncut unlike the UK releases which have to date all had a few minutes edited out. Every second of this film is indispensible so please avoid anything that is not Uncut. It comes on two discs and has new extras including a director commentary and a featurette in which "Hostel" Director Eli Roth discusses the film (this makes no sense given the massive difference in talent between Roth and Miike). The picture and sound are good. You get the original Japanese language plus an English dub, both in 5.1 surround sound.
The only complaint I have with this release is the packaging. The discs are held in a sort of wallet shaped like a blood bag. This is cushioned by a red, blood like, substance that adds to the effect. When you get the package it's held in a shoddy see through plastic sleeve (which you can discard). Information is printed on the inside of the sleeve and this leaves an unsightly imprint on the Blood Bag which doesn't seem to come off. The blood bag itself, while cool looking, isn't a great way to store discs and you'll find that the discs are marked and messy looking. They'll work fine though. Another problem is that the discs are difficult to remove from the Blood Bag. So basically the Blood Bag and the discs will look messy but you should still get this version. 5 star film but i'm knocking 1 star off for poor packaging.
on 27 April 2012
If I were to review the film Ichi The Killer, a five-star rating would be the only rating I'd give, as it is, I feel I should warn potential buyers regarding this specific DVD.
Once again, the 'powers that be' have decided that we, as adults, are not allowed to freely decide whether we want to watch excessive violence or not, and as a result, have decided to cut this film beyond belief. Now, with a film like Ichi The Killer, the violence is actually an essential component to the overall concept, construction and execution of such a beautifully crafted movie, so to do so is just rendering the movie and the story useless.
Towards the end of Ichi The Killer, the scenes are cut so badly that it's almost impossible to understand what is actually happening, leaving the viewer undoubtedly confused, infuriated and most definitely, alienated.
Ichi The Killer, is without doubt a stunning and darkly beautiful film, that really pushes the boundaries of film making. Undeniably sick and twisted, it is hard to watch at times, but when the end credits roll, I believe you'll see the disturbed beauty of the film, and actually feel sorry for such twisted, psychologically manipulated characters and the way their paths have gone.
Invest in a Region 1 release, and watch it in its full, uncut and disgustingly terrific entirety.
on 14 January 2005
You may think there's something wrong with calling a film that includes graphic scenes of ultraviolence, rape and torture "Comedy", but in actual fact it is. This is a film version of a manga by Hideo Yamamoto, and his vision retains it's violence - and the surreality of it. Sometimes the gore is so over-the-top that, when arteries are spraying everywhere and entire rooms are covered in gore, it's too surreal to be disturbing. When it attempts to be violent, however, the film does just that - Miike himself said that he didn't like to mix action with violence, and thus while the blood-soaked action sequences can be laughed at, the torture sequence and mysogenistic violence is far from funny. However, even when the uber-cool Kakihara cuts his own tongue off, it is not without comedy - his mobile phone rings immediately afterwards, prompting a string of mumbled words.
The film's characters are possibly the highlight - Kakihara is cool incarnate, Ichi is a victim who the audience can both symphathise with and revile, Jiji is somewhat mysterious and totally immoral, Takeshi is just a fly caught in the web... The list of interesting characters goes on. Any one of them could have their own film.
The ending is a little confusing, but overall the film is just generally an action-packed, violent Yakuza film - one of the best, in fact - and is definitely worth seeing. Buy this version - the import - as censorship simply damages the director's vision.
This 2001 fantasy thriller portrays the story of a scarred and psychologically damaged man, the masochistic Kakihara (Tadanobu Asano), whose boss, Anjo, has been kidnapped by a rival Yakuza gang in an unseen bloody attack. Ichi, an unknown but sadistic killer is given credit for the attack and Kakihara is next on his list –and he relishes the thought.
Filmed in a live action Manga style, the violence is over the top, the blood splatter is by the bucket load, the mass murder scenes are awash with so much blood characters literally fall over. It’s madcap cartoon mayhem –and that’s the point. Half hour in you can’t take the violence seriously anymore and settle back to watch the ‘cartoon’ unfold its story. In reality you wait to see what will happen when a masochistic killer and a sadistic one finally meet and in reality the deleted scenes have little impact on the movie as a whole and some of the deleted first rape is actually seen in later flashbacks [I watched the uncensored version immediately after this].
The single disc features play, chapters and audio [languages: Japanese or English dubbed, subtitles: English SDH, English off, audio commentary.] Undoubtedly an 18 rating for it’s violence, dismemberment, torture, rape, the swearing seems the least of the concerns. In typical cartoon manner there are frantic action scenes and some character building ‘linking’ scenes that keep it all grounded. This has elements that have now been much copied, but is still well worth a watch if you like plenty of gore or want ‘live action’ Manga –it even has a decent plot.
The cut scenes are basically; Editing of 2 early scenes of the pimp where he savagely beats a prostitute while raping her, most of the scenes involving torture and mutilation of the prostitute in the gangs ‘office’. The remainder of the edits are either so insignificant as to be un-noticeable or they are of the mutilated corpse or the burning of body parts to dispose of them. None of which are really essential to the plot other than to highlight the s&m relationships. In all about 3 minutes.
on 1 July 2007
I loved `Audition' by Miike and so I had to see `Ichi.'. While the style is definitely Miike's, I found that I didn't like it quite as much as `Audition.' It is hard to care much about many of the people being tortured because there is no character development in most of them with the exception of Ichi and Kakihara. Kakihara likes to be tortured, but only by those who are the best at inflicting pain. Therefore he is very studied in the art of giving pain and practices this with relish. There is a poor slob in the movie who is tied to a chair and has grossly enlarged needles thrown at his exposed face and who knows what else is done to him before they get the idea to cut his unmentionables into several ribbons with a pair of scissors. While there was little to no character development with this man it is hard not to be sympathetic to his plight. I felt a large rush of horror even though I am a female.
Ichi is interesting and has a strangely boyish face for one who is so unbalanced and capable of massive human destruction. It is hard not to feel sympathy for him as well because he is manipulated and used by someone who engages in mentally torturing him to achieve his ends.
This film is not just a straight forward slasher as many critics have said - it grabs you from many different angles and keeps the brain ticking away throughout. One minute you're laughing your head off, and the next you're trying your hardest not to look away. Then two minutes later you're deep in thought giving both the main leads a good psychological going over. At the end of the film we get some mixed up mental messages and have to decide what to do with this information-Miike's trademark as far as I can tell.
Whilst there are people out there who will absolutely hate this film and find themselves trying not to vomit, those of you who can take some comic book ultra violence and have a slightly darker sense of humour and are as curious as I am can defiantly check this title out.
on 9 October 2010
The `Ichi' of the title is late teen who appears to be coerced into the role of an assassin. Ironically, a cry-baby who'll just stand in front of his targets taking insults, looking like a wimp. They won't take him seriously; they point and laugh then KHACHOW! It's over.
Ichi himself plays second fiddle to Kakihara, leader of Kabuki-Cho's #1 pimp/gangster posse amongst other things: Masochist, sadist, fashion guru, charisma machine, smoker. His boss just got whacked so The Kak is gonna use the inventive torture techniques up his sleeve to find the killer in question.
The plot won't be crystal clear from the beginning. As there are lot of characters it mightn't be clear who's who and how they relate to each other on a first viewing. Luckily it's rammed full of story and dull moments are rare.
Cult hit due to its' use of colourful well drawn caricatures. All minor characters have a lived in look, and feel like they got unmentioned backgrounds. They're all built up before they're knocked down, leaving an impression before becoming a blood stain or getting a one-way ticket out of Tokyo. You could even spin some of the better ones off into their own movies.
CGI note: ITK avoids the pitfalls of most Manga adaptations using CGI liberally to recreate fantastical pen and paper worlds. Ichi instead is filmed mostly on location, keeping the CGI in its pants, only splurging for some of the more fantastical deaths.