Reviewer's Rating 4 out of 5   User Rating 4 out of 5
Ichi the Killer (2003)

In the make-believe world of movies, it seems that some of us would care if our boss went missing. Not sadistic hitman Kakihara (Tadanobu Asano), who maims and tortures his way to the truth - and an ultimate confrontation with the terrifying Ichi (Nao Omori) - in Takashi ("Audition") Miike's latest blood-soaked magnum opus.

If the Japanese director has achieved one thing with his movie, it's to push and tear at the levels of onscreen violence and take them to a terrifying new level. Imagine a Manga version of The Simpsons' Itchy and Scratchy storylines, but with more blood.

Even hardened video nasty addicts will reel at scenes of slow needle insertion into the most sensitive of areas. Not convinced? How about boiling fat being poured onto a man suspended by his skin from an array of hooks which are slowly slicing their way through his body. Want to rest a moment? You're looking a little pale.

Like every film which claims the mantle of Goriest-Yet-Made, "Ichi the Killer" will draw the curious into its flesh-frazzled visceral grip.

What you might not expect is the film's trump card - a deeply dark vein of humour, searing scenes like a protracted tongue-severing with an hilarious phone call taken by the now vocally stumped victim.

Still, that's minor league horror perpetrated by Kakihara, who really doesn't hold a candle to the psychotic Ichi. His razor-laced boots literally split his victims in two as computer-generated effects find a gory new home in the hands of Miike.

The ultimate showdown between Kakihara and Ichi doesn't disappoint, and leads to the film's most horrifically beautiful shot. With that comes relief at leaving this harrowing experience behind. Until the nightmares begin, that is.

In Japanese with English subtitles.

End Credits

Director: Takashi Miike

Writer: Sakichi Satô

Stars: Tadanobu Asano, Nao Omori, Shinya Tsukamoto, Alien Sun, Susumu Terajima

Genre: Action, Horror

Length: 125 minutes

Cinema: 30 May 2003

Country: Japan

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