ICHI THE KILLER, from acclaimed cult director Takashi Miike, is a 2 hour long gore fest that infuses dark humor, stylized camera work, and over-the-top acting resulting in a film that has become a beloved cult classic. The film stars Tadanobu Asano (Thor: Ragnarok), Nao Ohmori (Vigilante), and Shin’ya Tsukamoto (Tetsuo, the Iron Man).
ICHI THE KILLER, based off the Hideo Yamamoto’s manga of the same name, centers around a yakuza named Kakihara (Asano), who has a penchant for extreme torture, on the lookout for his boss who has gone missing. During his pursuit he comes across Ichi, a mild-mannered guy that you would never guess is a repressed, psychotic killer. Upon this discovery, Ichi is convinced that he has finally met a worthy match who will inflict pain on him in ways that Ichi has only dreamed of.
It’s been about a decade since I watched ICHI THE KILLER and that was done completely on purpose. The first time I watched this film was about ten years ago with a now ex-boyfriend who hated most American horror films but had an affinity towards J-horror. Being young and naive at the time, and not knowing much about J-horror, I went into this film bright eyed and bushy tailed. To say I was traumatized is an understatement and I made it a mission of mine to stay far, far away from this film. Now 10 years later, I had the chance to revisit the acclaimed film, and my experience was… enlightening.
ICHI THE KILLER is a mash up of many genres coming together as a whole. It’s a horror film, it’s a thriller, but it’s also a comedy, as well as an action movie all rolled into one. My reservations for re-watching this movie was mostly due to the amount of gore that is presented. I’m not the biggest fan of gratuitous gore, and ICHI THE KILLER is one of those films that definitely pushes my buttons in what I can handle. The amount of gore in this film, even though at times cartoonish, was enough to once again make my stomach turn.
I want to be completely transparent, as I know this is a film that many people love, in that I don’t hate this movie. It has a lot going for it, especially with the use of comedy to break up the more serious (and bloody) tones sprayed across the screen. I also enjoyed the many layers that are intertwined in this film with the many characters we meet along the way. Very few films can bring all those stories together in a seamless way that allows for a gut punch of an ending and ICHI THE KILLER does it brilliantly. As I’ve already mentioned, this movie is difficult for me to watch particularly in regards to the violence and gore, and had that been toned down a bit more, I think this would have been an easier watch for me.
All in all, ICHI THE KILLER has gone above and beyond expectations and has become a cult classic that people have embraced wholeheartedly. With dynamic characters, a crazy storyline, and buckets and buckets and buckets (and even more buckets) of guts, intestines, tongues, nipples, severed heads and more, ICHI THE KILLER is, without a doubt, a film that no one will forget. If you are an avid collector, or just happen to genuinely enjoy this film, you will love how the film looks now that it has been restored. For those looking for a little extra, the Blu-ray comes with an Audio Commentary with director Takashi Miike and Manga artist/writer Hideo Yamamoto. For me, I think I can wait another ten years to watch this film, but for you, make sure to pick it up on Blu-ray, which is now available, from Well Go USA.
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