“Ichi the Killer” – Andrew Guarini

Ichi the Killer starts off with a girl who can’t be older than 18 years old being beaten inside her house by someone who we think is her father. The beating is brutal, her face is bleeding, and you can almost feel her pain. Right when you don’t think it can’t get worse and the girl is near being unconscious, the man begins to rape her. Outside we see an even younger boy watching this go down, and it seems like he isn’t going to do anything about it. We see him kick over a pot outside, and the man inside raping the girl comes outside and sees who was out there. The boy is gone and all that’s left is semen on aplant. Out of this semen come the letters “ICHI THE KILLER.”

It has the weirdest opening credits I’ve ever seen, that is for sure, but what is also for sure is how much this movie sucks. Ichi the Killer is basically an excuse to throw uneeded gore (I love gore, but god damn..), misogyny, rape, and a ton of other tops into a blender. Usually this would be good, and the movie even seemed to have an interesting story. But many of my hopes for the movie were squashed within the first 20 minutes. You know a movie isn’t going well when 20 minutes into it, you don’t know any characters’ names and are constantly mistaking Ichi for this guy, or Ichi for that guy.

The movie’s unneeded gore is topped off by the fact that the movie is so anti-female, it becomes a rather infuriating watch. In one scene, a woman’s nipples are stretched out by clothespins with strings attached while another man slides his knife across the table slicing them off. After this, when the woman is bloody on the ground, a man asks if she wants water. When she doesn’t answer, he kicks her in the face and stomach until she is dead. Most people would read what I just said and say, “Oh well, that’s just a bloody death.” Not exactly. The movie is full of scenes that are unneeded, a ton of them containing rape. The movie’s gore is a plus and a downfall. I am someone who is not squeamish when it comes to movies. I’ve seen some of the goriest movies ever made and sat through them and didn’t flinch. But there’s a scene or two in Ichi the Killer where you can’t help but turn away. The prime example being the “tongue” scene, which puts the infamous “ear” scene in Reservoir Dogs to complete shame. The scene is painful to watch, and I’ve read that most people that see this movie turn it off after this part. Maybe I should have done that and saved myself an hour and a half more of my life.

Possibly the most disappointing aspect of Ichi the Killer is that the story is an utter bore and disappointment. Reading it, I was generally very excited for what director Takashi Miike could do with it. Miike turns Ichi the Killer into a two-hour movie full of boring, drawn-out scenes, unneeded gore and misogyny, scenes of torture, and confusing scenes just for the sake of making the movie confusing. The movie made no real attempt at explaining the story. It just threw characters here and there and never full explained much of anything. I got more info on the plot by reading the back of the box then I did by watching the actual movie! Miike uses the same camera angles he did in Audition, and while they were interesting the first time, they are just stupid and overused here. It took me nearly 45 minutes to place names on some of the main characters, and when I finally did, I still didn’t give two shits about them. Top this all off with an ending so terrible, that seeing it I can’t even explain what actually happened…and you’ve got more reasons you shouldn’t even look at Ichi the Killer. Ichi (Nao Omori) puts on a good show, but his character is just so terrible that I can’t help but dislike Ichi the character as well as Omori, the real person that plays him. Kakihara (Tadanobu Asano) is cool, and his character as a whole is pretty damn cool, but is brought down by how horrible the movie is once again. Kakihara is badass through and through, but when a movie is this long, boring, and drawn-out, you don’t care about the characters or what’s happening with the story…you just want the end credits to roll.

Can it get worse? Yes, it does. I don’t want to go on telling you how terrible it is, so I’m going to give you my wrap up of the review of this corpse of a movie. Ichi the Killer might as well be called Takashi Miike’s Excuse to Throw Two Hours of Gore, Unnecessary Violence Toward Women, and a Horribly Executed Plot Into a Film. Because in reality, that’s what it is. Ichi the Killer for one thing doesn’t have Ichi on the cover, and for another thing, for a large chunk of the movie, you don’t even know which character is Ichi! Talking about this movie is a huge pain in my ass. The movie has no redeeming value or feeling of anything when you are finally done with it. The only thing I thought when this movie wrapped up was, “Thank God”. Someone on the IMDB boards once said this about the film, “I’ve never been so glad in my inability to ‘get’ a movie in my life.” I could not agree more.

Rating: ★☆☆☆

-Andrew Guarini

Read Chris Luedtke’s Ichi the Killer review here.

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