Sunday, June 11, 2006

Ichi the Killer

Title: Ichi the Killer -aka- Koroshiya 1 (2001)
Dir: Takashi Miike
Rating: ***1/2 out of 5 stars

Christ, what do I say about this movie? One part of me feels like it's the most awesome movie ever, and another part of me is repulsed by it.

I can say this much: it blows Audition out of the water on every level. That movie - torture scene included - looks like The Little Mermaid when compared to Ichi, which is a lot more disturbing, bloodier, and generally more interesting. It's almost horror, and yet not at all. More like a highly-disturbing, gory action film as only the Japanese can deliver.

I kept putting this film off because I had misleading preconceptions about it. For one thing, the guy on the DVD box is not Ichi. I kept thinking he was some deranged serial killer and that was essentially the plot of the film. Small-minded of me, I know, but mostly I'm lazy.

Here is the actual plot: When a Yakuza boss disappears, his gang - led by Kakihara (the dude on the box) - vows to track down those responsible. He gleefully tortures his way to the truth, and learns of a mysterious killer named Ichi, who is nothing like his reputation suggests. While Kakihara wants to avenge his mentor's death, he also yearns to meet the infamous Ichi, who may be able to deliver the sadistic pain Kakihara desires (yeah, he's kind of a masochist).

I don't want to give away anything else, but the plot gets more complex than that. There are some very open-ended scenes that still confuse me, but it isn't so convoluted that you get completely lost. More so, there are a lot of sick and disturbing scenes. There is no shortage of rape, torture, and slaughter. And semen. Ugh, the semen.

The more I think about Ichi, the more I like it. I can say without question that Tadanobu Asano, the blonde-haired masochist Kakihara, is awesome. IMDB describes him "a cross between Johnny Depp and ToshirĂ´ Mifune" Well no damn wonder I like him so much! He's delightfully psychotic in this film and steals every scene.

Here is my biggest complaint: CGI! Christ almighty I hate CGI gore! This movie tends to get a little out-there with the cheesy gore. It even does the one horror effect I hate more than ANYTHING - I won't give it away, but if you know me well, you should know what I'm referring to. However, here is the counter-argument: this is based on a manga. As I came to this understanding, I have become more forgiving of the film's silliness. So let it be known, going in, that this is manga-based. So expect some cheesy, bloody wackiness.

It took some thinking, but I decided that I will recommend this one. It's weird, funny, crazy, and Asano is just awesome enough to warrant my recommendation. I would also like having someone to discuss this with, so see it, dammit!