Friday, August 15, 2008

Ichi the Killer review

Ichi the Killer is the outcome of Takashi Miike going back to his v-cinema yakuza roots with of course a much bigger budget and a deeper story. This is probably one of the most well known films overseas here, solidifying his shock cinema reputation and with good reason too.

Kakihara, (Tadanobu Asano) a masochist yakuza leader learns his boss is missing at the start of the film. Kakihara goes on a desperate hunt to find the kidnappers, eventually leading him to a fascination with the prospect of a true sadist, Ichi (Nao Omori), who is controlled by a former yakuza boss through memories of a dark childhood.

Using shock techniques, creative torture methods and obscene amounts of blood and gore, Miike clearly wants us to have a good time with the sheer absurdity of the situations. Tadanobu Asano brilliantly portrays Kakihara, conveying dignity and insanity at the same time. He is the epitome of cool and shows it in every scene. Nao Omori turns up a good performance too as the emotionally fragile Ichi but tends to be more on the annoying side instead of sympathetic.

With a number of neat digital effects David Fincher style, Miike is all about “elegantly” keeping the viewer’s attention. Randomly switching it up to slow motion with an intense electronica soundtrack or displaying “Koroshiya 1” in semen, everything is just thrown out there for fun’s sake.

So when the climax adds unnecessary depth missing from the rest of the film, it feels haphazard and uneven. The vague symbolism and sudden care for the characters almost takes the fun out of the film.

Still, it’s a fun ride for most of the running time, full of scenes to make you squirm, laugh and rewind to see it again.


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