Thursday, January 8, 2009

Film Review - "Ichi the Killer" (2001)

Ichi the Killer
Takashi Miike

This movie is completely impossible to classify to any genre through any traditional manner. It has elements of horror, dark comedy, drama, thriller, and romance (and romantic comedy)… Oh, did I mention that the movie is about the yakuza, sadomasochism, and brutal vigilante torture/murder? It’s absolutely absurd, and that’s the way I like it.
The plot is that somebody killed a yakuza boss and took his money, and his masochistic right-hand-man/lover, Kakihara, takes over and begins an arduous and lengthy search for his master’s killer. Meanwhile, elsewhere in Japan, a vigilante deals out justice for victims of rape and violence… Unfortunately, he’s so unbelievably unstable, sadistic, and mentally dysfunctional, he usually ends up raping and/or mutilating the victim (and not necessarily in that order) as well as their attacker. Kakihara catches wind of this, and, having become lonely since there’s nobody around who can ‘hurt me like the boss could’, seeks out this mysterious sadist in hopes of, essentially, finding love.
Everything in this movie is so over-the-top… The gore is about as messy as I’ve seen it get, but in a very silly way reminiscent of Dead-Alive. Over-the-top comic book gore is a characteristic of several of Takashi Miike’s films, but even this is pushing it. There are all kinds of unsavory and absolutely grotesque activities going on here, but that’s what makes the ‘romantic comedy’ aspect even more amusing. There’s some really, really disturbing stuff in here that even got to me (such as the whole scene where Kakihara took out his ‘cheek-rings’… That freaked me right the hell out), and then some stuff that’s dark and freaky as hell but hilarious (like a particularly hilarious scene where, to make amends for torturing an innocent person, Kakihara immediately takes out a pocket knife, cuts off about a fourth of his own tongue, drops it in a jar of formaldehyde, and presents it to the victim – all while they’re staring in shock. Then, his cell phone rings, and he answers it, tongue mutilated and bleeding everywhere. The person on the other end asks why he sounds so weird, and, deadpan, he lisps, ‘I cut my tongue out’).
In the end, this is a hideous yet beautiful tale that cannot be missed by anybody who has a strong stomach and is looking for something unique… It’s an essential Miike film, and one of the most unique movies out there.

RATING: 8.5/10

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