Thursday, June 26, 2014

Film Review: Ichi The Killer (2001)

Ichi: The Killer (Review)
Japan/2001
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Streaming
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...extremely violent and irreverently humorous..."

When his boss goes missing, Anjo, ruthless yakuza enforcer Kakihara (Tadanobu Asano) will stop at nothing to find him...

Ichi: The Killer is a little confusing mainly due to its ambitious storytelling. The story follows Kakihara as he tries to locate his boss, usually through some vicious torture and investigation. Meanwhile, the eccentric yet vicious Ichi (Nao Omori), who is seemingly responsible for Anjo's disappearance, is manipulated into picking off more of Kakihara's crew. When Kakihara realizes Ichi is responsible, he becomes excited and anxious to finally face someone who can fulfill his sick fantasies. The ending is as bizarre as the rest it the film; I don't think the ending had a definitive meaning, so it should be open to many interpretations.

Ichi: The Killer is an extremely violent and irreverently humorous film. If you're looking for something shocking, Ichi: The Killer will definitely deliver. The story becomes much more than a yakuza-crime film thanks to the eccentric characters and their different motivations. The very dark, often subtle humor is also a big plus; you may feel guilty for laughing, but it's genuinely witty and cheeky. The main fault with Ichi: The Killer is its storytelling: I'm all for creative and unconventional storytelling, but it has to be precise to be effective; in this case, I felt like it was too convoluted and messy. Other than that, the story can be a bit slow at times.

Tadanobu Asano dominates the screen -- it may just be the character, but the performance also screams badass. Nao Omori was also good in capturing the eccentric character. The music is great, some of it will stay with you long after the film has ended. The cinematography and especially the camerawork are unique. The special effects are so-so: on one hand, the computer use is very blatant and even cheesy; on the other hand, the practical effects and makeup are wicked. Honestly, the computer effects should only bother those spoiled by big blockbuster graphics. Director Takashi Miike delivers a vicious action-comedy with his incredibly unique direction; Miike is a true visionary.

Overall, Ichi: The Killer is a great film. It's uproariously entertaining, very creative in its style and content, and creates a truly iconic character. It has some storytelling and pacing issues, and the special effects may be detrimental for some viewers.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore, graphic torture, nudity, and a brief, distorted rape scene.

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