Miike might be remembered for his harrowing violence in The
Audition (2000) and he continued some of the film's sadomasochistic
themes in this 2001 follow-up, Ichi The Killer.
a manga, this violence-filled black comedy however is closer
to Battle Royale in spirit than The Audition. Mild-mannered
Ichi (Nao Omori) is hypnotised by Jijil (Shinya Tsukamoto) into
killing rival gangs in Tokyo. No reasons are given for Jijil's
actions but when Ichi takes out gang boss Anjo, his second-in-command,
Kakihara (Tadanobu Asano), steps in to find the missing gangster.
this if you are squeamish. For starters, in a torture sequence,
a gang underling has his body pierced by barbecue skewers. For
over-stepping the chain of command, Kakihara slices off his
tongue as a form of penance (incidentally, the tongue does regenerate
itself). And the highlights of Ichi The Killer - when Ichi slices
and dices his victims - bodies are literally split into halves
and limbs and torsos are summarily quartered. You not only find
gushing blood but slippery, visceral-drenched apartments. Next
to this, the violence in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill seems
a rape incident that might or might not have happened, Ichi
is hypnotised into thinking that he's the vengeful superhero
out to right all wrongs. Dressed in a black outfit with blades
embedded in the heels of his boots, Ichi's duty is to punish
- in all cases, his victims end up dead. On the other hand,
Kakihara, who enjoyed a sadomasochistic relationship with Anjo,
hopes to meet his match in Ichi.
if the ending has a tendency to be ambiguous - the final image
of a boy looking into the camera suggests that anyone can be
an Ichi - or that Kakihara spiked his brain using skewers through
his ears for an auto-erotic climax, hence fantasising the end.
In this delirious and wild ride, what comes across best are
two lonely characters who create their own hell and perhaps
finding their own releases without their meaning to. - Stephen