Sight and Sound - 07/01/2003
"...Takashi's kinetic direction and stylish visual flair are humorous and diverting..."
Total Film - 07/01/2003
"...This demented butcher shop of a movie takes Asian cinema to new extremes..."
Rolling Stone - 12/11/2003
"Takashi Miike's ICHI THE KILLER separates the men from the boys....With hyperkinetic camerawork and editing as well as a deep plot shaded with viciously dark humor..."
Prolific director Takashi Miike (AUDITION) keeps finding new ways to test the boundaries of on-screen violence. ICHI THE KILLER is a masterful piece of filmmaking, simultaneously funny and horrific, but it's only for viewers with strong stomachs. One character, Kakihara (Japanese indie film heartthrob Tadanobu Asano), a masochistic yakuza lieutenant, has slits in his cheeks through which he blows cigarette smoke and gleefully hacks off his own tongue to apologize for his impudence. Then there's eponymous assassin (Nao Omori), a painfully shy but sadistic young voyeur who wears a leather superhero outfit to work. Manipulated by the cagey and mysterious Jijii (English translation: "Gramps," Shinya Tsukamoto), Ichi lashes out and massacres those Jijii deems bullies, and basically anyone else who upsets his frail psyche. Jijii uses the demented lad to start a bloody war between rival yakuza factions. Miike's film is full of grotesquely over-the-top violent set pieces, including flying entrails, graphic mutilations, and even a severed human face splattered against a wall and slowly sliding to the ground. It's all captured with kinetic camerawork and hyperactive editing. It's not for everyone, but bolder viewers will find it uniquely entertaining.
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