Ichi the Killer (2001) - Takashi Miike


Director: Takashi Miike
Writers: Sakichi Satô (screenplay), Hideo Yamamoto (manga)
Stars: Tadanobu Asano, Nao Ohmori, Shin'ya Tsukamoto
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese | Cantonese | English
Release Date: 25 July 2001
Budget: $1,400,000 (estimated)
Gross USA: $19,041


Ichi the Killer (Koroshiya 1) is a Japanese horror film from director Takashi Miike. It stars Tadanobu Asano, Nao Ohmori and Shin'ya Tsukamoto. The film was adapted from the Hideo Yamamoto manga, Koroshiya Ichi. It’s brutality and cruel imagery make it one of the hardest films to watch. Released in 2001 on the independent film circuit, Ichi had gained a certain reputation and was screened with complimentary “barf-bags” at the Toronto International Film Festival. If your not opposed to gore, torture, rape and graphic murder then this movie might be for you!

The movie focuses on the Yakuza underground and a brutalistic hitman, Kakihara. A terribly effective assassin, Kakihara loves dishing out pain, torturing and murdering his victims in various ways. He is employed by the Anjo Gang as their most trusted hired killer. When Boss Anjo goes missing with 300,000 Yen, Kakihara vows to put everything on the line to find him, leaving a bloody trail of entrails and innards along the way. These massacres gain the attention of another killer. Perhaps the murderer our hero is seeking. Someone that has been roaming the streets.  Someone far more sadistic and psychopathic, far more unassuming. Ichi. A thin young man that teeters on the brink of sanity. A professional madman versus a loose cannon in the seedy japanese underbelly of Tokyo.

The aesthetic is tremendous. The content is so intense and brutal that the grungy ambiance fits perfectly. The gore feels so much more at home in that environment. Even the terribly dated CGI effects fit right in. The amount of gore really tests the limits of the causal viewer. Fans of b-movies might equate this to another film, Riki-Oh: The Story of Riki, which also featured the same type of over-the-top carnage featured in this picture. However, they did it with a satirical edge. Here we get to geysers of blood, mounds of guts and body-parts, people being split in half… all in a more serious tone. And although it may be presented in a serious manner, you can’t help but laugh at the sheer amount of places this movie doesn’t fear to tread.

Ichi the Killer is a movie that won't soon be forgotten. If you plan on watching the movie, make sure you are ready. The very first scene is an intense rape followed by a title card made of real human semen. You read that correctly. This isn’t a movie for everyone. It’s not a date movie. It’s not a movie to watch with mum and dad. This is a movie you watch in a dark room, far underground or at some adult arcade. Not during Thanksgiving with the family in the Living Room. It’s a hell of an introduction to the world of Takashi Miike.