Ichi the Killer
Director: Takashi Miike
Word of warning right off the bat: this is one deranged flick, definitely not for the masses. The fact that the opening title rises up out of a puddle of spooge left dripping in the rain should be a pretty good indication that this ain't your average family fun-fest. There's a strong S&M theme going throughout, piled on top of yakuza-oriented torture, rape, and some wicked gore. But it's all wrapped around a touching love story that fills you with warm, good thoughts as the credits roll. Not.
The boss of a Japanese yakuza goes missing, and his main man vows to find out what happened to him. His sadistic mannerisms and lack of any kind of emotion make the other members of the syndicate nervous as Kakihara stops at nothing to try and find clues as to the whereabouts of his boss, mentor, and torturer. But the recent murders of his own gang members by some killer named Ichi leaves him curious as to the nature of this strange new psychopath.
Hyper-violent and ultra-stylized, director Takashi Miike is like the Japanese equivalent of David Cronenberg, except a bit more fucked up. Chalk it up to generations living in a repressed society, I guess. If you look past the violence, the story itself is basically about a psychologically ill young man who has become an unstable tool of sadistic punishment. In true Japanese fashion, the last scene leaves you wondering, "What the fuck was that all about?" Some great effects, both real and CG.
Great Scene: When Kakihara cuts off a tongue, I must admit it's pretty impressive.
DVD Notes: A good transfer put out by Media Blasters, you have the option of watching the dubbed version or Japenese version with English subtitles. Also included is Japanese commentary (with English subtitles) by director Miike and manga artist Hideo Yamamoto whose work this is based on. I listened to a little bit of it, pretty funny, a couple of film nerds talking about the film and various miscellanea.