“There’s no love in your violence”
Ok first off I would like to clear up a frequent misconception, the guy in the movie’s poster & most of the promotional material is NOT Ichi, it is Kakihara. Ichi is probably director Takashi Miike’s best known film & is certainly one of his most controversial. Adapted from the Manga by Hideo Yamamoto, Ichi The Killer is an incredibly violent movie in an over the top, almost slapstick style.
Crime lord Anjo is brutally murdered by Ichi while in the presence of a prostitute. The murder scene is cleaned by Jijii & his cleaning crew. The rest of the crime lords believe that Anjo & the prostitute have fled with 3 million yen of mob money. Only Kakihara, a sadomasochist & Anjo’s right hand man believes Anjo is still alive. Jijii feeds Kakihara false rumours that Suzuki (A rival clan boss) has kidnapped Anjo. Kakihara captures Suzuki & tortures him by suspending him from the ceiling with hooks, pushing skewers through his jaw & pouring boiling hot oil on him. Suzuki is innocent & by means of an apology to the clans, Kakihara cuts out his own tongue. Jijii it turns out is pitting the clans against each other using Ichi. Ichi is a dangerous psychotic created by Jijii using hypnosis. Ichi, already guilty of killing his parents was taken in by Jijii, who, under hypnosis places a false memory into Ichi. While at high school Ichi witnesses a gang rape, instead of stopping it, Ichi is aroused. This leaves Ichi confused & almost cowardly, until he is triggered into psychotic rage by sexual arousal.
This is a movie of strong themes & even stronger visuals. While some of the violence is comically over the top, some is just plain brutal. This movie certainly will not appeal to all. Let’s be honest here, any film whose title is spelt out in a puddle of jizz is not going to be wholesome family viewing. The movie is chock full of violent sexual deviancy. Ichi is first seen masturbating while watching a pimp brutally beat & then rape one of his prostitutes. Kakihara is a masochist who is looking for someone who can inflict real pain on him. It is even suggested that Kakihara’s relationship with Anjo is somehow sexual in Kakihara’s mind as Anjo is the only person that has been able to inflict true pain on him. The beating & mutilation of Myu Myu is very graphic & disturbing. Ichi moves at breakneck pace. Wonderfully acted & beautifully shot, Ichi is a very stylised movie. Ichi wears a black rubber suit with blades in the heel of his shoes & Kakihara sports a “glasgow kiss” held by pins. It’s also worth noting that Jijii is played by Shinya Tsukamoto, director of Tetsuo, The Iron Man.
Ichi is a good movie, not a great movie. It is sadly overhyped. It’s not even Miike’s best, that would be the insanely twisted Visitor Q or the wonderful Audition. It’s certainly worth a watch, just don’t expect the masterpiece some would have you belive it is. I would also point out that the UK dvd is heavily censored by the BBFC.