Saturday, April 16, 2011

ICHI THE KILLER: A LOVE STORY?

What kind of crap am I watching?  There is a lot of stuff going on in this crazy mad comic book (or Manga for the nerd-os out there) movie.  ICHI THE KILLER has a great number of cool quirky characters and a lot of convoluted story to try and figure out.  Also there is a lot of semen in this movie.  The flippin title of the damn flippin movie forms in a puddle of semen.  Probably the grossest title sequence ever.  Yeah, this isn't the kind of movie you watch with your girlfriend unless she is super cool.  I just want to focus this review on the two main characters of the film.  You see that guy on the cover there with his face all cut up and the title ICHI THE KILLER placed out front letting us know that he is Ichi the Killer?  That's not Ichi! 

That crazy mo-fo you see prominently displayed on the poster is Kakihara.  He is a masochist.  He is also in the Yakuza.  His boss Anjo is missing and Kakihara searches for him in the gangster underworld.  Kakihara loves to suffer and Anjo is the only guy who can inflict the right kind of pain for his pleasure.  Its not necessarily a love thing between men though you can certainly see it that way.  With Kakihara its about the pain itself.  That is his sex.  As the story continues he learns that Ichi killed his boss so naturally Kakihara wants revenge.  Kakihara is not someone you are going to forget any time soon.  Maybe that is because he can blow smoke out the slits in his cheeks.  There are rings in the corners of his mouth that keeps his lower jaw connected to his face.  You do get to see him remove the rings.  Its kind of cool.  Just don't punch him in the face.

Now Ichi is kind of on the opposite end of the "F'd Up Spectrum".  Ichi is a young twenty something who is constantly battling his sadistic sexual urges.  Ichi is a 100% sadist.  He knows its wrong to hurt and kill but it is the only way he can be sexually fulfilled.   Ewwwww......He can't stand pain and has a tendency to cry a lot.  In fact he runs around in this rubber armored suit for protection that has axe blades that pop out the back of his heels like some kind of sick messed up super hero.  He is our hero and he oddly enough is a sympathetic character.  He suffers from a real moral dilemma that isn't (necessarily) his fault.  There is an old man that is pulling Ichi strings.  His name is Jijii.  Jijii uses Ichi to exact his revenge (for some reason) on Kakihara and his gang.  He implanted Ichi's sadistic sexual urges through some kind of hypnosis mumbo-jumbo.  He wanted Ichi to be some kind of super extreme killer that can chop people up into terrible CGI but he didn't expect Ichi to "get off" from it.

So basically throughout the course of the film Kakihara realizes how sadistic and brutal Ichi really is.  People get messed up all over the place in this movie.  We are talking blood and guts hanging from the ceiling messed up.  By the end Kakihara admires Ichi and wants to have this huge one on one battle.  The two are destined to be together in some kind of perverse love story.  Kakihara would like nothing better than to get chopped to pieces by Ichi's axe blades.  The two weirdos have their epic battle ( Romantic moment?) on top of this building.  Now is the time for these two to get their bloody messy freak on.  Like my first foray into sex however the whole final battle is a complete disaster.  Ichi completely falls apart and starts crying.  Not knowing what to do next, Kakihara imagines getting killed by Ichi and throws himself off the building laughing about how wonderful it is to be butchered by Ichi.  The Yakuza leader finds himself in purgatory (I think) because he probably would enjoy Hell too much.  So its kind of like the man not being able to "get it up" and the girl having to "finish the job" herself.  Its kind of funny when you think about it.  I am not sure really what the heckola is going on at the end.  Your guess is as good as mine.  What is with the freakin crow?

Takashi Miike is one of those directors that does whatever he wants.  He is highly experimental with the results being a mixed bag of "meh" to "Wow! That was kind of neat".  His films are heavily flawed and sometimes are too slow but they are always interesting because you see things you have never seen before.  Sometimes its weird camera angles, or misdirection, or music cues that start at random spots in a scene that  make no sense.  In ICHI THE KILLER one of my favorite scenes is Ichi talking in a room with Jijii.  The two are never shown in the same frame.  You just have two back and forth shots between the two characters as they are talking.  Ichi is clearly looking at Jijii off frame.  At one point Jijii tosses a bag of pills at Ichi that he catches.  Distraught Ichi walks out the door behind him with the camera following with a pan shot.  Immediately after Ichi walks out the apartment door Jijii comes in from the very door that Ichi left without the camera cutting away.  It was done in one shot.  So Jijii wasn't in the room while they were having the conversation.  WHO THREW THE FREAKIN BAG?  See?  The whole scene was a misdirection.  It contradicts itself on purpose.  That is why I love Miike.  I won't watch all of his films but I love that he is unbound by the rules.  Film is art and anything is possible in art.

I know I shouldn't like this film but I can't help it.  ICHI THE KILLER is amazing.  It's F'ed up in the right way.  Every filmmaker out there should watch this and more of Miike's work.  It definitely expands the mind and gives more ideas on what can be done.  ICHI THE KILLER is probably his best work yet though I am no expert.  I have a few of his films and enjoyed them all but they definitely are not for everybody.  Each one has little moments of brilliance that can be appreciated if you look at film as art and not "lets tell a story as realistically as possible".  There is a lot of ugliness in this film and I am not talking about all the horrible CGI in the film.  Cruelty towards women runs rampant.  They get beat, raped, sliced boobs and fountains of blood spraying from their necks.  Its not the kind of thing I like to see happen to women yet IT HAPPENS IN ALMOST EVERY MOVIE I OWN!  (What can I say?  I own a lot of horror movies.)  But in its defense it does serve the story.  Yeesh!  I need to start watching  more comedies or feel good movies with talking puppies or something.  Maybe I should go see HOP and if I survive that I can do a review on it.

In closing I ask only one question.  Does half this movie look like it was soaked in urine?

Just trying to keep it classy for the Internet.

Jason

2 comments:

  1. Ichi is a great film. I got the double disc edition with the anime version on it (yes yes, I know, nerd) and it's even crazier.
    Dont know about not watching it with your girlfriend though, my wife enjoyed it. Well, enjoyed more than she hated it anyway. If you like this, watch Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky.
    Its as mad as a box of frogs!

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  2. One of these day I will get around to watching Riki. I need to see it. Thanks for the comment.

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