Ichi the Killer (2001) (Definitive Remastered Edition) (Blu-ray Review)

Ichi the Killer (2001) (Definitive Remastered Edition) (Blu-ray Review)
Directed By: Takashi Miike
Starring: Tadanobu Asano, Nao Ohmori, Shin’ya Tsukamoto
Rated: UR/Region A/1:85/1080p/Number of Discs 1
Available from Well Go USA

As sadomasochistic yakuza enforcer Kakihara searches for his missing boss he comes across Ichi, a repressed and psychotic killer who may be able to inflict levels of pain that Kakihara has only dreamed of.

Before I get into the movie let’s talk about this Blu-ray upfront. This is a 16mm shot film that was converted to 35mm. That info and more info about it is given at the start of the movie. While the transfer is miles and miles ahead of the last Ichi Blu-ray, don’t go into it expecting it to pop. Close shots look good, but there are times when stuff can look strange in the light. This mostly is noticeable in the background, but in scenes like the one where the stripper is being beaten, the light can cause a strange reflection on the girl’s skin from time to time. I’ve attached photos so everyone can judge for themselves, but it still looks good more times than not. But I don’t think this movie will ever look great. Also, unlike the DVD version, the English dub is gone. Now, on to the movie. “Ichi The Killer” is pretty much a crime film in the vein of “Pulp Fiction”, but without the out of liner format. The dialogue isn’t anywhere near as great, but odds are if you’re watching this twisted story of the Yakuza and the evenly twisted men trying to bring it down, what they are saying isn’t what is important to you. What most people watch a Takashi Miike film, it is for the blood and oh my brothers let me tell you that you will get all that you want and more with this film. Sure there are a few moments where what we see looks pretty damn fake (due to some bad CGI in spots) but what you see as a whole will more than makes up for it. Just off the top of my head, I can recall seeing people hung up on meat hooks and scalded, nipples being cut off, tongues being cut off, arms and legs being severed, people being chopped into mushy piles of flesh and blood, and LOTS more.

While you probably won’t give a damn while seeing it, the acting here isn’t bad at all. The most memorable character in the film is a man named “Kakihara”. Kakihara is played by the very popular Tadanobu Asano. Who is kinda like the Japan version of Johnny Depp. He plays the role perfectly and walks away as the star of the movie to spite being the movie’s lead villain, but then again I suppose a movie where a real hero isn’t anywhere to be found, that is a great thing to accomplish. I can safely say after you see this film you will be a huge fan of both the character Kakihara and the actor Tadanobu Asano. I guess the bright side of not having that English dub here is he doesn’t sound like Clive Owen because that was rather distracting on the old DVD. While the plot could be a bit weird and complicated at times, it isn’t that hard to follow. Most the questions get answered before the film’s climax which is a good thing. The key thing here is to not feel bad after you find yourself laughing at someone’s horrible demise. That was probably Miike’s intention when making this movie the way he did. There is a strange comfort to be found while watching a movie where ungodly things are happening all around but yet the characters just seem to shrug them off and take them lightly. I LOVE this movie and I’m happy to see it on a Blu-ray that while not great looking is still better than the one we got before.

Extras

– Audio Commentary with Director Takashi Miike & Manga Artist/Writer Hideo Yamamoto
– Still Gallery
– Original Trailer
– Optional English subtitles for the main feature

Quality of Transfer: 80%