There are some films that have a certain goal in its life.
Ichi The Killer has one, and that is to disturb you, or as for its classification: shock genre, to shock you. Yet when watching this film you can’t help but laugh at it, and feel a need to support its villains. In any case, my name is Secondbaseknight. This is Ichi The Killer review. (I will do my best not to spoil)
Directed by Takashi Miike who is most know for his J horror films such as Audition (1999), Visitor Q (2001) and the cult film Ichi The Killer (2001). Ichi the killer is filled with various types of beating and torture scenes that would make the Saw franchise blush. This has one sole purpose, and that is to show that this film is ultra-violent, based on an ultra-violent manga of the same name.
Exploring the underworld of Japan, and in some ways the twisted nature of human beings that can only be understood through pain. Examples of this are shown throughout the film, especially when we are introduced to Ichi, who is a broken character with a sick and disturbed outlook of the world, as an upset child lashing out at the world, but with blades on his feet. It adds some gory kills to his kill count, without spoiling it too much, there is a scene where he slices a man in half with his weapons. This, however, is nothing. Why should we be disturbed by a man being cut into pieces, we have seen this is in so many other films? With Ichi The Killer, it has a seductive ability, and shows the power of violence, alienating us to the images of woman being beaten almost to death and people hurting themselves just so they can feel alive.
What is the story of this film?
It is based on Hideo Yamamoto’s manga, which follows Kakihara a sadomasochistic mobster, who wants to be killed or experience pleasures of almost being killed. So, when we are introduced to Ichi, who is a serial killer and an assassin who leaves his victims in a bloody mess, it’s Kakihara’s goal to find this killer and fight him to the death. There is a lot more to the story, though, and the problem with the story is that it is ultimately hard to follow, due to it being almost this long episode adaptation of a multi-volume manga series. It’s more like it’s been split into a mob drama, than a mystery that has a bit of action in the mix.
The film itself is classified as a horror, but I honestly did not feel any horror from it, but a more American crime drama, with some changes. The most important thing to understand, is that Kakihara is called in to find the mob boss. He is willing to go any distance to find him. He is a sadist, and increases his terror methods throughout the film. He soon he discovers Ichi, and slowly becomes obsessed with him. Ichi is a conflicted person, who has a carer and mentor called Jijii, and Kakihara uses this to his advantages to control him. So when we see Ichi on screen, the audience will mostly see a young man with macho insecurities and is portraying the ideals of what it means to be a man that women want.
Going deeper into the characters we can easily make comparisons with Kakihara to the Joker, due to his scars on his face, his calm and self-assured body language, helping him come across as this charming punk. He stands out due to his wardrobe choices, which almost screams for attention. As for the secondary characters, we have crooked cops Jiro, Saburo and Kaneko, who are the mob boss’ bodyguards, and his son, who is bullied, meets Ichi, and slowly beings to admire him.
Ichi The Killer is a more like a filthy comedy, mixed with an extreme form of S&M that uses disturbing forms of violence to bring attention to itself, and does so in a way that may have inspired filmmakers to create some iconic films, such as Hostel, and Saw and even short filmmakers such as myself. The film successfully sells in shock value only, and humour, especially when they are inflicting pain on the victims (just saying, I didn’t not feel disturbed), but when you see someone bleed like a busted water pipe, and limbs flying around like nothing, you feel like you just entered a mature cartoon instead of a film.
As for the deeper meaning of the film and what each character represent, we can say that Kakihara’s goal is to live and feel alive and no form of drugs and sex can remove the itch that torments him throughout the film. He has a very iconic look, and shows how far he is willing to go for that ultimate thrill. Although he is the leader of the gang (controlled by fear), he doesn’t appear all too bad, until he is introduced to Ichi. As for Ichi, his sexual frustration, and his ability not to understand what it means to be a man, slowly becomes deformed, due to what he saw growing up and experienced, so we can’t hate him. However, we can praise him (in some ways), for the fact that he doesn’t go insanely mad, and kills everyone on sight. Ichi reminds us of a pitbull, it is animal that has a bad reputation. It’s not the breed that matters, but the way that it is reared.
So what do you think of Ichi The Killer? do you think it deserves its cult status? Will you be watching it? If so leave a like and comment and support the blog, have a wonderful day.