ICHI THE KILLER
Directed by Takashi Miike
Produced by Dai Miyazaki & Akiko Funatsu
Screenplay by Sakichi Sato
Based on the comics by Hideo Yamamoto
Cast: Tadanobu Asano, Nao Omori, Shinya Tsukamoto & Alien Sun
2001/124 mins/Color/5.1 Dolby Digital
1.85:1/Japanese/Japan/PAL Region 2
Web site: www.worldwidecinema.net
Review from the WorldWide Cinema 2 DVD
Boss Anjo, the powerful leader of the yakuza group called "The Anjo Gang" disapeared, together with one hundred million yen. Words are going around that he vanished by himself with a 17 years old girl but his right arm follower and admirer Kakihara doesn't think so. Along with the rest of the Anjo Gang, they are on a search for their boss.
Kakihara meets the boss' wife, Karen (played by the dropdead gorgeous Alien Sun) in an underground club. She doesn't really seem to care about what happened since she believe he left her for a younger girl. Its there that Kakihara meets Jijii, an old man and his friends who are new in town. The next day, the Anjo Gang get visited by Jijii himself. He claims that rival gang leader Suzuki must be behind it all since there's people saying that now Suzuki will be able to really benefit from his business in selling illegal videos which was actually exclusive to the Anjo Gang. Next thing you know, Suzuki his nude and hanging some 5 feet off the ground with iron hooks stretching his skin. Kakihara interrogates Suzuki who claims to know nothing, Kakihara starts putting needles though the skin of Suzuki but he says nothing. Kakihara then pours boiling hot cooking oil on poor Suzuki. The rival yakuza gang show up taking control of the situation. When Kakihara is asked why he did this to Suzuki he said he had an informer and points at him... but Jijii has already left!
The Anjo Gang soon learns about a killer on the street called Ichi (marvelously played by Nao Omori), setting up pretty much the rest of the story. Apart from the ultra violent, gory moments and superb visual, one of the highlight of the film are the varioust twists. Did Boss Anjo vanished or was he killed? Why is Kakihara wanting so bad to find out what happened? Why is the fuckalicious Karen, who's the boss' wife, act like she doesn't care? What is Jijii's role in all this? And the biggest question, who is this Ichi?
Without a doubt one of the best film to come out in recent years, ICHI THE KILLER (also known as "Koroshiya 1") was based on a manga about a little geek standing up to a bully, then simply called '1' (Ichi). Created by Hideo Yamamoto, the manga was a mild success but still got some fanfare since it was banned because of the constant and shockingly gratuitous scenes of rape, gore, prostitution and violence.
Tadanobu Asano steals the show with his great performance as Kakihara. The character looks incredible and has so much charisma. Also where else would you find someone with long cuts next through his cheek, separated from his mouth only by a pair of piercing ring. Just imagine what happens when he smokes or when someone punches him in the face!
As for Ichi, he has to be the most troubled and twisted young man ever put on celluloid. The guy has clearly lost his mind. Still he's able to do some tricky and bloody decapitations thanks to the blade on his shoes.
Once again Takashi Miike delivered one incredibly stylish and violent film, using various format and speed frame. Once again, he deals with the familly subject which you can always find in his film. And once again, this will cause controversy wherever it will play.
The first DVD features the film presented in a very nice 1.85:1 widescreen and 16x9 enhanced. The image looks great, with rich colors, beautiful reds (always a plus in a film like that), no signs of compressions or any artifacts. Audio wise we get the original Japanese track in 5.1 Dolby Digital which sounds pretty good or a very badly dubbed but quite hilarious English track in 4.0 Dolby Digital. Why they decided to dub this is beyond me, waste of time and money but hey its still is fun to listen to especially the voices of Karen and the kid. There's also the possibility to have English, French or Dutch white subtitles. The film is separated in 32 chapters. The menus are nicely done with animations and music.
The second DVD also features some great looking menus with animation and music. First we have a choice of four interviews with either Takashi Miike, Tadanobu Asano, Alien Sun or Shinya Tsukamoto. There's the original theatrical trailer, the European trailer, the electronic press kit which features another interview with Takashi Miike and a nice behind-the-scenes segment. There's a huge still gallery consisting of images from the film, behind-the-scenes and promotional artworks. We also get some very good behind-the-scenes at seven scenes from the film. There's also some linear notes about the film and bios of Miike, Asano and Tsukamoto. All of the extras are subtitled in English and are easy to read. The DVD comes in a very nice slipcase packaging. There is no booklet or inlay card but the back of the cover features a list of the chapter stops and an image. A very good double DVD edition.
Various editions of the film exist on DVD. The Universe Laser & Video Co. released in Hong Kong is cut by 9 minutes missing some bloody moments and lots of important bits which are really important to the film' storyline like the scene with Kaneko buying Ichi something to eat is missing and one important twist to the story about what and why this happened to Boss Anjo. This is an NTSC Region 3 disc which you should avoid at all cost. A deluxe but way too expensive double DVD set was released in Japan. It features lots of extras not available anywhere else, including a commentary track with Miike, but there's no English subtitles. As for an American release, Media Blasters owns the right and should release it uncut as part of their Tokyo Shock line later this year.
This Film Features:
Review by Kim Dubuisson. All Right Reserved. 2003. ©
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