“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.
“This isn’t a mystery of life! It’s a shit!”
Takashi Miike is one of the most prolific & well-known directors working in Japanese cinema. Miike has given the world the wonderful Audition, the hyperviolent Ichi & the frankly piss poor Happiness Of The Katakuris. Visitor Q is Miike’s most extreme film to date, I would also venture to say it is his best. Visitor Q is an insane ride, imagine if Brett Easton Ellis & J. G. Ballard had co-written a draft of Mary Poppin’s script! Filled with jet black humour & some highly tasteless yet extremely funny set pieces, Visitor Q is about the redemption of one hugely dysfunctional family, brought back together by a stranger that comes to stay with them.
Visitor Q opens up with the question “Have you ever done it with your Dad” written across the screen. The film then shows Kiyoshi the Father of the family interviewing a young prostitute Fujiko who persuades him to have sex with her for 50,000 yen. After Kiyoshi ejaculates quickly, Fujiko charges him 100,000 yen as a punishment. Kiyoshi realises he has left the camera filming. Kiyoshi doesn’t have all the money, he says he will give the rest to Fujiko’s mother, Kiyoshi is Fujiko’s father! The Movie then asks the question “Have you ever been hit over the head?” as Kiyoshi is hit over the head with a rock by the visitor, not once but twice. It is after this that Kiyoshi brings the visitor home with him to stay for a while. The family is at breaking point. The son physically abuses his mother whose body is now covered in bruises & scars, she also walks with a limp. The mother herself is an habitual heroin user who turns tricks to pay for her habit. The son is bullied at school & the bullies attack the family home most nights. Kiyoshi the father is a failed TV reporter, who was raped on camera by a bunch of teenagers. He is now filming his own son being bullied to make a documentary on bullying. What follows is a heartwarming tale of family redemption including drug abuse, lactation, necrophilia & violence.
Visitor Q is one of those movies that just succeeds on every level. The acting is first-rate & the characters are beautifully written & developed. It’s a film that I’m sure will shock & deeply offend a lot of people. For anyone with a broad sense of humour this film is genius. I must admit to laughing so hard my stomach hurt during the necrophilia scene in the greenhouse & the subsequent bathroom scene. Two scenes that could come across as extremely tasteless but due to their sheer farcical nature become incredibly funny. With Visitor Q, Miike has made a uniquely Japanese movie, it could never be remade in the west as it just wouldn’t translate, it is inherently Japanese. One thing I find incredibly ironic with Japanese cinema that is highlighted by this movie is the Japanese censors. This film contains necrophilia, domestic violence, incest, drug abuse & lactation taken to the nth degree, all of which isn’t a problem for the censors but all images of pubic hair must be pixellated! Its things like this that Miike’s movie is undermining, it holds up a mirror to the current trend for reality TV & the public’s almost morbid fascination with it. Visitor Q is far more of a subversive movie than Fight Club (& I love Fight Club)
Visitor Q is a wonderfully insane mindfuck of a movie. Most people when Miike is discussed will mention either Audition or Ichi, both of which are great movies, but it’s Visitor Q that is Miike’s crowning glory. Hugely controversial, highly offensive & pant-wettingly funny, Visitor Q is a must see.