Friday, December 11, 2015

ICHI THE KILLER (2001)

I recently watched the excellent "Fargo" season 1 (in one sitting) and thought to myself that Billy Bob Thornton's character might be the most badass crime syndicate enforcer of all time...then I remembered Asano Tadanobu's character from ICHI THE KILLER.  Strangely enough, even though Tadanobu steals the entire movie, he's not the title character.  The Ichi in the title is actually the character that Tadanobu's Kakihara is searching for.

As the film opens, crime family boss Anjo is slaughtered by a psychotic killer (Ichi), but after a professional clean up crew wipe away any traces of the murder, people start to think that maybe Anjo actually split and took 3 million yen of the gang's money with him. The gang's loyal enforcer, Kakihara, doesn't believe this and starts searching for clues. Meanwhile, Ichi is busy dealing with his own demons because not only is he completely insane, but he's been brainwashed by yet another psychopath, Jijii (played by TETSUO: THE IRON MAN director Shinya Tsukamoto!)

There's been a ton of hype and stuff said about ICHI THE KILLER over the years so I doubt I can add anything new that you haven't already heard.  Plain and simple: it's a great film.  I'm not really sure why it (and AUDITION) are the two most popular Miike films, but they are and they are both deserving of all the praise they get.  In the case of ITK, the story and style are similar to a number of other Miike's yakuza crime dramas, but what really makes it stand out is Asano Tadanobu's portrayal of  Kakihara.  I've seen this film probably a half dozen times or more since 2001 and when I watched it again this morning for this review I was completely hypnotized by Kakihara.  The guy is so unstable and dangerous that you have absolutely no idea what he is going to do next.  He's terrifying.

Good pace (even at 129 minutes), awesome camerawork, great acting by a cast full of familiar faces, violence, the film's title written in jizz (I honestly cannot think of another film that has done that, I mean, besides FORREST GUMP of course), a guy wearing fluffy dog ears literally sniffing out clues, even more violence, ridiculous computer-generated special effects that were sooo stupid that they were perfect, rape, torture, nipple removing, tongue slicing.

Mandatory viewing for fans of the stranger side of Cinema.
A message from Miike on the DEAD OR ALIVE (1999) DVD.