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Ichi The Killer!
by: Dr. Boogie

About a year ago, the local theater chain ran a whole bunch of old movies, as well as some that didn't see much play in American theaters. I was able to catch Life of Brian, Versus, and most memorably, Ichi the Killer. For a long time, I had heard about what a terrifically screwed up movie it was, but I had never had the opportunity to see for myself. Once I finally did see, it regretted not checking it out sooner. The blood, the gore, the crazy (literally) characters, a real whizz-bang movie altogether, and let me tell you, nothing quite compares to seeing it on the big screen.

More importantly, though, I knew after seeing it that I would be doing a mini-mock about it. These things take time, of course, and so I thought I'd give it a year or so before starting work on such a big project. That year has finally passed, and so I bring you... Ichi the Killer!

The first scene is a yakuza-owned apartment. The first character you meet, oddly enough, is not the title character. It's the sad-looking fellow standing above the bald guy. He's Kaneko, the bodyguard of the head of this particular gang, Anjo, and he's feeling a bit anxious about not being allowed to watch over his charge. The other gangsters insist that the boss needs a little privacy when he's making time with a lady friend. He accepts their judgment, and surely nothing will go wrong...

Scene two opens with a prostitute getting punched in the face by her pimp. It seems he forgot the first ruling of shopkeeping: Don't damage your merchandise. He continues beating her while she squeals like a pair of Nikes scraping along a basketball court. After giving her a thorough thrashing, he proceeds to rape her. Which I have decided not to make into a gif. Just use your imagination. Anyway, the romance is disrupted when the pimp spots someone peeping through the balcony window. Upon investigation, he finds no one, but he does find a clue that indicates someone was indeed peepin':

That's a mean thing to do to a houseplant. Still, it doesn't much bother the pimp, and he shuts the door and goes back to what he was doing before. It's a hell of a way to introduce the title of the film, that's for sure. By the way, in case you were wondering, director Takashi Miike confirms that yes, it was real man gravy. I would not have liked to have been a PA on set that day.

Cut to a van holding three guys in shiny, quasi-futuristic outfits. They're staking out a nearby apartment, and the man in the passenger's seat is doing his best to keep the other two on task. After a few minutes, they get the call they were waiting for, which consists of someone weeping into the phone, and they head on up to the apartment in question. As they waited, one of them casually remarks over his cell phone that, "Lately, we only go in to clean up after Ichi." In this case, he was not speaking metaphorically.

There's blood everywhere. There's so much, in fact, that one of the men slips and lands in a pile of viscera. Truly, these cleaners have their work cut out for them. The one who fell asks the leader what kind of man this "Ichi" is, but the leader has no answer for him. Instead, he says, "let's get started," and they do the best cleaning I've ever seen.


I'm not sure how long it took, but still... This brings us to the next character introduction. The guy with his back to the camera is, if you ask me, the real star of the show, as evidenced by the fact that his face graces the DVD cover. His name is Kakihara, and he's curious as to why his boss and around 3 million yen (about $26,000 or 281,911 pesos) have vanished without a trace. The blame falls squarely on the greasy-looking guy for telling Kaneko to leave the boss alone, and neither he nor Kaneko have any idea who got to the boss or to where they may have gone.

A seemingly anemic representative from the Sanko syndicate, the group syndicate that controls the Anjo gang, shows up to assess the damages, and is apparently timing himself, as he brings with him an hourglass. He thinks that Anjo must have taken the money and made off with his girl, but Kakihara assures him that his boss wouldn't do something like that, and that it was most likely the work of an enemy gang. The sickly guy points out that the other gangs are mad only at Kakihara, for what we can only imagine. Despite this, Kakihara swears that Anjo is alive, and vows to find him.

By the way, in case you hadn't figured it out, Anjo was the disemboweled corpse that the three cleaners were taking care of.

The search begins with Anjo's girl, Karen. If anyone would know the whereabouts of the missing boss, it would be her. An interesting thing about Karen is that as she talks, she goes back and forth between speaking Japanese and English, which can really throw off the subtitles. When Kakihara and the gang find her, she's regaling one of her clients with the story of how she strangled her neighbor's dog. She claims to have no idea where the boss might have gotten to, and that he may simply have been killed, but Kakihara assures her that the boss must be alive, and that he's just waiting to be found.

As they talk, Kakihara notices a rowdy party on the other side of the room. The party in question is, coincidentally enough, composed of the three cleaners from before. It turns out that the leader of the three, Jijii, is an informant. Kakihara assures him that if he has any information regarding Anjo's disappearance that he will be well rewarded. Of course, he has no idea that Jijii mopped up after Ichi's encounter with Anjo, and so the two of them part ways with a pleasant smile.

Come on, Kakihara, how can you trust a smile like that?

Sly grins aside, it's about time we met the title character of the movie, don't you think?

Here he is at his day job. Unfortunately, the customers are mad that he brought them the wrong drink. He apologizes profusely and heads back into the kitchen where his boss is waiting to give him a pep talk. Just kidding. In reality, his boss puts a knife in front of him and tells Ichi to kill himself. Being told by your boss to kill yourself turns out to be quite stressful, and Ichi starts crying. The manager reprimands him, saying that, "I'll only forgive you when you're dead." Geez, tough room.

Back at the gang headquarters, the search for Anjo is not going well. With no leads to go on, it looks like they'll just have to chalk this one up to the actions of a rival gang. Just then, Jijii shows up with an interesting rumor: Anjo may have been kidnapped by Suzuki of the Funaki gang, another gang working under the same syndicate as the Anjo gang. It just so happens that Suzuki is angry at Kakihara for cutting him out of an adult film racket, and has allegedly been bad-mouthing Kakihara behind his back, even going so far as to say that Kakihara had a crush on Anjo. This draws a nervous laugh from Kakihara, and he orders Takayama to bring Suzuki in for... questioning. Once he's gone, he tells Jijii to go buy some shrimp. For what, you must be wondering?

He's going to make some nice tempura and have a civilized, gentlemanly chat with Suzuki regarding Anjo's disappearance.... Nah, I'm just kidding. He does want to ask Suzuki about the incident, but he has a unique way of holding Suzuki's attention.

He strings Suzuki up from the ceiling on an array of hooks going through the skin on his back. "You look fantastic, Mr. Suzuki," he remarks. Not on to waste time, however, Kakihara dispenses with the pleasantries and gets right down to business.

After posing the question of Anjo's whereabouts once, Kakihara begins sticking Suzuki in a number of places with a large knitting needle, taking his time with each stab and wiggling the needle around as he goes. Suzuki admits that he was angry about losing his video racket to Kakihara, but that he doesn't know anything about Anjo's disappearance. Unfortunately for him, that wasn't the answer that Kakihara was looking for.

He grabs the pot full of hot oil and pours it on Suzuki's tattooed back, or more accurately, his formerly tattooed back. Severe oil burns can wreak considerable havoc on skin art. He pours the remaining oil onto Suzuki's head, which does little to improve his complexion.

In another apartment, two of the cleaners, Kano and Long, are watching the events unfold via a hidden camera. Kano explains that he installed the camera so that Jijii could keep an eye on the gang, and that he used to be a member of the Anjo gang, but that he had had plastic surgery done and so he doubted anyone would recognize him. Long poses the question, "why did you choose this face?" to which Kano responds, "shut up!"

With no information forthcoming, Kakihara decides to go to work on Suzuki's "little one." Before he can, however, the Funakis gang shows up and their boss is just a bit miffed that one of their members is being pierced and fried. He asks, "what the fuck do you think you're doing?" and Kakihara's response is simply, "just a little torture." Things get a little tense after that, and Takayama steps in to say that they received a tip that Suzuki was involved in Anjo's disappearance. He tries to point out the tipster...

But Jijii managed to escape in the commotion. It looks like they'll be searching for two people now. The Funaki boss glares at Kakihara, and Kakihara hangs his in repentance. Or maybe he's just admiring his own handiwork, it's hard to say.

Back on Ichi's end of the story, the submissive psychotic has employed the services of the prostitute you saw getting roughed up at the beginning of the film. It turns out that her bruised, distended face is quite a turn-on for the young man. When she tells him about how her pimp beat her up, he asks, "shall I kill him for you?" She ponders the question for a moment, but before she can answer, Ichi grabs her head and forces it back into his lap. And who said chivalry was dead?

Meanwhile, negotiations are underway to make up for Kakihara's Q&A session with Suzuki. The Funaki boss demands the adult film business, but that would leave the Anjo gang with no means to make back the money that disappeared with Anjo. Luckily, Kakihara has a better idea on how he can make amends...

He ties a handkerchief around his neck, grabs a sword, and sticks out his tongue. The other men in the room look on in confusion, but it dawns on them what Kakihara, unasked, plans to do.

What follows is a truly grotesque (and I have to admit, kind of funny) sequence that leaves even the hardened yakuza men uneasy. Kakihara slowly cuts off the tip of his own tongue and, upon completion, presents the tip to the thoroughly nauseated Funaki boss. It takes a little urging on Kakihara's part, but the boss eventually accepts the tongue tip from Kakihara's blood-covered hand.

Even better than that, shortly after completing the gruesome task, Kakihara receives a call on his cellphone. Which he takes. He spits up a goodly amount of blood, and he doesn't quite form every letter, but he still manages to take the call. The entire display proves too much for the syndicate representative, and he passes out once Kakihara leaves to continue the search for Anjo.

WILL KAKIHARA EVER FIND OUT THAT ANJO IS DEAD?
WHERE DOES KAKIHARA GET HIS SUITS?
WILL KAREN SETTLE ON JUST ONE LANGUAGE?

CLICK TO CONTINUE TO PAGE 2 TO SEE!


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