The 2001 Japanese cult classic Ichi the Killer is completely insane. I am sad that I did not see it sooner, as it compares to another Japanese cult classic which I saw years ago on Netflix, Machine Girl. That film is also insane, in that it contains the most over-the-top, hilarious gore and violence I have ever seen in a film. In terms of this spectacle of violence, Ichi the Killer does not surpass Machine Girl, at least in my mind. In terms of the other insanity in the film? It makes Machine Girl look like a film made for children.
To explain this insanity, I will be spoiling the film slightly, as to be vague about this film only comes at a disservice to the truly shocking nature of it. The themes and visual motifs which Ichi the Killer comes back to multiple times throughout the film include semen, rape, ultra-violence (including removal of various body parts, on and off-screen), sado-masochism (perhaps the central theme of the flick), and even violence against children. To be fair, the person who presented the film to the audience before it started said it was not for the faint of heart, and that is absolutely true. I witnessed at least a dozen people leave the theater as the film spiraled further and further into sheer perversion and disgust.
Suffice it to say, there are multiple scenes in which the violence made even me surprised, and I’m used to thinking that I am completely desensitized to such things. There are things in this film which I have never seen before, in terms of violence, and for that, I will forever remember this film. It makes me want to watch many of the other films in this genre, which I guess could be called Japanese Exploitation.
The acting is completely ridiculous, as is the writing, which is perfect for a film like this. The director and writer are obviously aware of the nature of this kind of film, and wholly embrace it. The love of the source material also shows through, and if the film is this disturbingly entertaining, I can only imagine what the manga is like. If you enjoy this type of film, Ichi the Killer is a must-see. I could not believe my eyes at some of the things I saw during the over two hour runtime, and the experience of seeing such pure Japanese perversion on screen will stay with me for a very long time.