The works of Takashi Miike are frequently peppered with sadistic torture, extreme gore, and graphic violence. For this reason alone, I feel that this Japanese gangster flick qualifies as a horror film. Miike’s unique ability to shock audiences shines through in this, his most ambitious and wildly beloved cult classic. Ichi premiered to a packed house at a midnight screening during the Toronto International Film Fest, and in a stroke of marketing genius, attendees were handed promotional barf-bags.
Inspired by the eponymous Ichi The Killer manga, the story follows Kakihara’s search for Boss Anjo, who is believed to be either dead or to have run off with a girl and 3 million yen worth of the Gangs money. Kakihara believes a rival gang is responsible for the disappearance, and carves a bloody swath through the criminal underworld to find Boss Anjo. Then we meet our Hero(?), Ichi. Bullied from a young age, Ichi remains reserved until his inner rage bubbles over, transforming him into a sobbing juggernaut of violent rage. Erupting in a frenzy of flying kicks and bladed heels and leaving a sea of blood and entrails. How these two story paths interweave and collide is for you to see. This Masterwork of violence has to be seen to be believed.
Everything from the costume design to the swirling camera work paints a stunning picture for the viewer, a strangely beautiful and artistic picture drenched in buckets of gore. Miike’s grue-infused sensibility casts a very big shadow over any future Japanese film makers, and any of his works are well worth the time to check. While a dubbed version exists. I cannot recommend strongly enough to watch the subtitled version. You’ll never look at Tempura the same way again….