ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Ichi the Killer (2001)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Takashi Miike

Starring:
Tadanobu Asano/Kakihara
Nao Omori/Ichi
PLOT-CRUNCH
Psychotic and emotionally pathetic Ichi (Omori), is being manipulated to slaughter Yakusa mob members. Armed with his superhero outfit and his razor laced boot, he’s cleaning shop like nobody’s business. When Mafioso and S&M freak Kakihara’s (Asano) boss disappears, Ichi is the prime suspect. Kakihara, his fly leather coat and his henchmen go on the hunt for the aloof fruitcake…blood flies, guts tumble and we vomit with joy!
THE LOWDOWN
FANTASIA FESTIVAL 2003 ENTRY

Director Takashi Miike, the man behind the excellent sucker puncher “Audition” takes us through yet another gore-filled ringer with "Ichi The Killer" (which is itself based on a popular Manga by Hideo Yamamoto). WARNING: Barf bags, cold beers and more cold beers are highly recommended from yours truly to survive this watch.

This bad-to-the-bone, bad boy worked the screen in so many ways; it definitely played by its own rules within its own incredibly sicko world and consequently bashed my skull into dust. Here, pleasure and pain are bound together tight. So strongly, in fact, that it would make Pinhead blush like a rejected schoolgirl. Everybody in this flick is one twisted squirrel with some serious Band-Aid/Ejaculation issues. Kakihara, for example, gets off on torture more than The Marquis De Sade ever did and Ichi (Omori) pops boners when thoughts of rape and feelings of shame kick in. A word on Ichi, if I may: his imminent rationalization of his actions to a poor prostitute was one for the “Crazy Mofo Guinness Book of Records”-- I jolted down notes when he spat that jive out...I gotta use that shite! Man, and I thought I had some quirks...this dude is seriously messed up!!

On a narrative level, the flick surprised me with a couple of neato plot turns that I didn’t see coming and managed to weave three plots lines skillfully to eventually tie them together perfectly in its last block. Although potent in layers and meaning via its themes of repressed anger, self-loathing, physical/mental abuse, sadomasochistic ways of emoting…what not, I will admit that my interest in the film’s depth was swiftly undermined by the stronger juice in the glass; the INSANE and UNAPOLOGETIC gore set pieces. Let's light some candles and spank some hookers for the red slosh in this baby...man-o-man! I squinted my eyes, I yelped out loud in cheers and uttered, “Fuck me man, that’s gross!’ at least 69 times. On the upside, the butcher jamboree gave this gore hound a genre hard-on that defied Viagra in terms of lasting, on the downside, the red grub was so excessive that it pretty much drowned out the substance of the movie for me. Only after looking back at my Ichi experience, did I manage to appreciate it as more than just an excessive gorefest.

Now the film did go limp in parts; it lagged on occasions and would’ve benefited from some circumcision here and there. There are just so many times I can hear “Where’s the Boss?” or “Where’s Ichi?” before my fast-forward trigger finger starts itching. We get it! LET'S MOVE ON! I also had qualms with the character of Ichi-- although well acted by Nao Omori and, without a doubt, an interesting entity, he tended to get on my nerves at times with his weakling whining. But that’s my own shit going on...I easily get grated by pathetic characters onscreen. That’s just me. Lastly, I never really got to care about anybody in this party deeply enough to be affected by their fate. That slightly lessened the stakes when it came to the players and therefore somewhat weakened the impact of the storyline.

But when all was lopped off, chopped off, sliced off and buried, "Ichi The Killer" wound up being quite a unique and visceral watch. Not only was it a gore festival, it was also a visual treat via the polished directing style and hilarious show due to the black and sadistic humor. It also disturbed the shit out of me when it came to its violence against women. DAMN! I haven’t seen chicks get beatings like that since the first season of Jerry Springer. Yes, I was disgusted, and you know what? It felt AWESOME! Any movie that stirs me up is a friend of mine! (sings) When there’s S&M criminals in your neighborhood...who you gonna call? ICHI THE KILLER!
GORE
Slap on your raincoat, tigers because it gets messy in this gore-zoo (I’m talking the UNCUT version here). We get blood and gut soaked rooms, a man hanging from hooks pierced in his back, long metal needles inserted in folks’ faces (ouch), boiling water on one’s back, a cut off tongue, a man split in half (the highlight for me), split necks that gush blood, a face ripped off, a cut off face sliding on a wall, cut off nipples (yowzer!), cut off foot, a ripped off arm, a severed head and you know what...THERE’S EVEN MORE! Happy birthday, guys and dolls!
ACTING
Tadanobu Asano (Kakihara) commanded the screen with his strong presence. The man didn’t have much to tackle in terms of “emotional” range, but his kool as an ice pick demeanor, photogenic nature and slick threads (loved the leather jacket) made him a character to be reckoned with. Even though I wanted to bitch-slap him at times, Nao Omori (Ichi) was utterly convincing as the multi-layered psycho nutball.
T & A
We get some tit shots, but trust me, the context in which they are showcased won’t have you reaching for the baby oil and the Kleenexes unless you’re one sick puppy. The ladies get some shirtless dudes and a guy’s butt crack.
DIRECTING
Miike gives us quite an eyeful using various visual tricks, image manipulation, slow motion, zany cam shot and crazy angles to keep us riveted to the screen. He knows when to pad it up or to play it down to serve the happenings at hand. NOTE: The snap neck POV shot was one for the books! Style junkies take note!
SOUNDTRACK
The score by Karera Musication was beyond varied, changing in tone constantly and upping the film’s almost otherworldly feel perfectly. Good shite!
BOTTOM LINE
"Ichi The Killer" is a sexually deviant, anarchic, psychotic, unsettling, politically incorrect, side-splitting and blood-drenched hammer to the head. Sure, it dragged at times and Ichi needed a good kick in the face, but if you dig your Asian cinema and have a set of balls the size of mammoth rocks (yes, this applies to the ladies too), try to nab this crazy bastard...he’ll take ya for one crazy ass joyride and you’ll thank him for it. One last thing: say no to drugs and no sex before marriage-- just trying to be a positive influence (yeah right!).
BULL'S EYE
When Kakihara's cell phone rings in the film, the ring tone is actually the movie's theme song.

I saw this one via “Fantasia Film Festival 2003”. Thanks guys!
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