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Ichi the Killer (2001) - Film Review

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by Tinderlocks (subscribe)
I'm a budding sound designer and composer for film. I live, eat and breathe movies!
Published January 20th 2013

I love most of Takashi Miike's films, although he churns them out like they're going out of fashion. He frequently takes a genre of film and turns it on its head.

Ichi the Killer is about a Yakuza mob boss who gets killed by an unknown killer. The next in line in the gang proceeds to find the killer by any torturous means necessary. Sounds like your standard Japanese mafia movie right? Well, Miike throws in some really screwed up characters, inventive and gruesome torture scenes (not for the faint hearted), some sado-masochism, and lo and behold, you have one screwed up film. Miike has a knack of combining emotion, violence, comedy, absurdity and a good plot, all jam packed into one movie. What separates this movie from other black comedies (like Feast II and III), is better acting, interesting characters and a good plot (especially the ending).

Sound design-wise, there was a great deal but it was often a bit clumsy. The film to me felt rushed, not pacing-wise, but production-wise. There were a lot of dialogue that needed fixing or ADR, but were left flawed. A lot of the gore sounds were badly placed in the mix and sometimes sounded very fake. Miike has a great talent for choosing interesting and obscure music. Often the music seems almost the opposite of what would normally be chosen, yet it works. He is also not afraid to use silence to enhance crucial scenes. At times the music flicks from one track to another and then to silence so fast it's like skipping through radio stations. But it all adds to the franticness of the film. Almost a sense of chaos similar to films like Natural Born Killers and Tetsuo. I like how he is deliberately abrupt with some of his cuts, whether they be visual or sonic.

Overall, I loved this film. I can never predict what will happen in his films and he always shows violence in its most creative and brutal form. Although this film is flawed on several technical production aspects, on the whole it stands up as a ruthless and weird mafia flick. Very enjoyable. I'd give it a 7.5 out of 10.

Directed by Takashi Miike.
Written by Hideo Yamamoto (comic), Sakichi Sato (screenplay).
Starring Tadanobu Asano, Nao Ohmori, Shin'ya Tsukamoto, Paulyn Sun, Susumu Terajima etc.
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese, Cantonese, English.

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