May 29, 2018  (Web Review)

Ichi the Killer

Well Go USA, 128 min., in Japanese w/English subtitles, not rated, Blu-ray: $29.98

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike made his reputation with a string of crime movies featuring wild twists and extreme acts of violence. His 2001 gangster tale Ichi the Killer is one of his most disturbing—a depraved, demented, and gory exercise in excess. Tadanobu Asano stars as Kakihara, a sadistic mob enforcer with a mouth slashed wide from ear to ear (the bottom half of his face is held together by hoops). He looks as demonically wicked as he acts, embarking on a reign of torture and bloody violence in order to find his missing mentor, pausing only to feed his masochistic need to be beaten and brutally abused. Meanwhile, mad maniac Ichi (Nao Omori, looking more like a morose sad sack than a serial killer) is mowing a bloody swath through town, leaving little more than flesh and blood caked on the walls where his victims once stood. Like many of Miike’s films, this one is indulgent, overlong, and more calculated than dramatically motivated. Which is exactly what his fans love: Kakihara hangs a rival leader from fishhooks pierced through his flesh, sinks spikes through his cheeks, and douses him in boiling oil, and that’s just during the first few minutes. Limbs are pulled from sockets, a tag team of twin torturers slice and dice a prostitute, and numerous torsos spill forth guts and gore across the screen. A cult classic—albeit one clearly not for all audiences—Ichi the Killer makes its Blu-ray debut in a newly restored edition featuring extras including audio commentary by the director and a stills gallery. Recommended. (S. Axmaker)