31 Days of Horror: ICHI THE KILLER

Ichi the Killer by director Takashi Miike is not for the faint of heart. Loaded to the brim with gore from the opening scene on Miike takes a sick pride in churning the viewer’s stomach. Ichi kicks off with sincere perversion and showcases Miike’s deep lack of empathy for those who suffer at the hand of depravity and violence, however, Miike has a talent for pushing the boundaries of disgusting into the realm of zany and perhaps comical. Ichi the Killer has a way of making its viewers seesaw between wanting to hurl and bursting into laughter effectively.


Much of the Ichi the Killers’ story is married to its gore. Steeped deep in debasement and debauchery from the opening sequence involves a violent and bloody rape of a prostitute at the hands of her pimp while a voyeur looks on masturbating. The title, Ichi the Killer, appears in semen which has spilled on the floor. From then on the blood pours heavier.

Ultra violence is the gimmick of Ichi the Killer, as an icing that covers up a traditional revenge plot line. Steeped deep in debasement and debauchery the viewer is introduced to a yakuza power struggle. A boss has gone missing in the midst of a lucrative pornography pushing dispute. In his quest for answers notorious yakuza strong-arm Kakihara, played by Tadanobu Asano, takes the torture and considerable carnage to a new level on rival gang leader Suzuki, played by Susumu Terajima. resorts to stringing Suzuki to the ceiling, drills a wire through his cheek, and chemically peels off Suzuki’s skin. That’s just the beginning. We haven’t even met Ichi at this point.

Ultimately to plot felt shoe stringed together to make room for the movie’s intensive gore, with the exception of establishing the contrast of main characters Ichi and Kakihara. That being said, Ichi the Killer is what it is, and a definitely entertaining for the blood and guts enthusiasts it will undoubtedly draw out.

There is a pronounced effort in the film to build the characters which should be applauded. Perhaps it’s due to the manga in which this movie’s roots are grown, or the desire to have this film be more than just a violent gore fest. Miike put forth a distinct effort to make viewers understand who was in this film and what their motivations are.

Kakihara is an interesting killer who believes that in order to truly deal pain one must live and experience it. He embraces the intense torture he delivers. It becomes apparent quite quickly that Kakihara is driven by his desire to fulfill his philosophies morose than his desire to restore the yakuza structure. Ichi, who is a legend in his own right, is rumored to be on a killing spree spreading across the land rivaling Kakihara’s own.

Ichi is a mentally disturbed weapon. He was in waiting until implanted memories were triggered by Yakuza boss Jijii kicking Ichi into battle. He’s impressionable and empathetic, weeping to himself before one of his notorious boot blade kills. Unlike Kakihara, Ichi does not relish this talent for dismemberment, but also seems profoundly more efficient at it. The two are worthy adversaries and two sides of a killing coin. Miike took care in building towards their titanic battle.

Gore & Scares 

The title’s forte is pitting the viewer against his own visceral ick factor. What Ichi the Killer lacks in a plot it makes up for in buckets of blood. The saving grace in Ichi the Killer is the director’s over the top violence which seems to parody itself. Based off of, quite literal, comic violence and unrealistic sexuality Ichi the Killer is blatantly set in a surrealistic reality, where death is somehow profusely more gruesome.

It’s easy to see how the most desensitized to the grotesque would flock to this next level in fiction. It’s blood and gore traverses what our brains know is possible,  through physics and gore that nearly deceive us. Copious amounts of bodily fluids flood the screen in an effort which could only be produced by a talented and depraved special effects team. The desired effect paid off as it is cutting edge and unique more than 10 years after the movie’s initial release.


If your senses are dulled to torture and your tolerance for immense violence has peaked, Ichi the Killer may be the right choice for you this Halloween. Miike certainly has a unique style that imprints on your mind. If you find that traditional gore puts you on edge, this movie is way over-the-top.

3 out of 5 stars

3 out of 5 stars

Cover Image via


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Categories: Movie Reviews

Author:Paige Six

Blogger at The Product Manager & Chief Operating Officer over at Another Castle. A Writer & Editor for Ladies of the Roundtable. Contributor to Aggressive Comix, Attack of the Fanboy, and so many more!

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10 Comments on “31 Days of Horror: ICHI THE KILLER”

  1. 11/01/2014 at 2:33 PM #

    Reblogged this on Coiled 薔薇 Rose.

  2. 11/06/2014 at 8:35 AM #

    I remember seeing this. very very brutal.

  3. 11/06/2014 at 12:47 PM #

    It certainly was. I found it hard to watch at quite a few points!

  4. 11/07/2014 at 9:53 AM #

    nobody does revenge or brutality on quite the same level as the Japanese.

  5. 11/07/2014 at 10:00 AM #

    if you like anime, check out Shigurui:Deathfrenzy. Its about these two swordsman. I dont want to ruin it, but it is good.

  6. 11/07/2014 at 6:07 PM #

    I’ll definitely give that a chance! Thanks for the recommendation. I’ve never been too deeply into anime but I definitely have gotten invested in a few.

  7. 02/19/2015 at 5:15 PM #

    Reblogged this on Rice Cake.


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