Ichi the Killer

Ichi the Killer

Omega Project, Omega Micott Inc., Alpha Group, Spike Co. Ltd., Excellent Film, Japan, 2001
AKA: Koroshiya 1
Director: Takashi Miike
Writer: Sakichi Sato, Hideo Yamamoto
Cast: Tadanobu Asano, Nao Ohmori, Shin’ya Tsukamoto, Paulyn Sun, Susumu Terajima, Shun Sugata, Tôru Tezuka, Yoshiki Arizono, Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Satoshi Niizuma, Suzuki Matsuo, Jun Kunimura, SABU, Moro Morooka, Hôka Kinoshita, Hiroshi Kobayashi, Mai Goto, Rio Aoki, Yoshiyuki Morishita, Setchin Kawaya, Yuki Kazamatsuri, Sakichi Sato, Kaori Sugawara, Hideo Sako, Mako Takeda, Masataka Haji, Manzô Shinra

It took some time before I got to see Ichi the Killer, and quite frankly, it wasn’t really what I expected at all. I’ve seen other work by Takashi Miike so I was expecting over the top weirdness. I’ve read some reviews so I was expecting an excess of gore. I was prepared for mixed feelings. What I wasn’t prepared for was the hilarious comedy it turned out to be. Sure, there is body parts sliced off, extreme torture, people split in half, women beaten and raped, blood and guts splashing all around but the story and the characters are so over the top it makes You laugh. I don’t thing I laughed so much to a movie since I saw Life of Brian forty years ago.

Some might find this comparison bisarre in it self but just as Life of Brian, Ichi the Killer was banned in Norway. In Stockholm and Toronto, barf bags was handed out at the film’s premiere. Of course this was a public relation stunt and nothing more, but Norwegian film censors fell for it and choose to ban it.

Ichi means One in Japanese so “Koroshiya 1” translates to “Number 1 killer” just as easy as to Ichi the Killer, and that’s exactly what Ichi appears to be. The number one killer with blades in his shoes so he can slice victims apart with his kicks. Heck, he even has his own cleaning team which tidy up his crime scenes, scrubs away all the blood and remove the left over body parts. One night he murders the sadistic Anjo, a Yakuza and leader of his own gang, and a prostitute (while Anjo is beating her up and raping her). When his cleaning team is done leaving no traces of the kill, everyone just assumes Anjo took off with the girl and 3 million missing yen. All except the extremely sadomasochistic Kakihara who suspects a rival gang is behind the disappearance.

Kakihara gets a tip from Gijiin, who used to be a Yakuza but was thrown out, that Suzuki, a rival gang leader is behind Anjo’s disappearance so Kakihara tortures Suzuki severely to make him talk. Since both gangs belong to the same Yakuza syndicate this stunt results in Kakihara getting expelled from the Yakuza. He takes over the Anjo gang, but now every other Yakuza is their enemy and rumour has it that Kakihara is Ichi’s next target. At first Kakihara is out to avenge his boss, but as Ichi is coming closer Kakihara is getting more and more fascinated by Ichi. Ichi scares him. Nobody has done that in a very long time, and his masochistic side is getting aroused by the thoughts of what pain Ichi could inflict upon him.

Ichi on the other hand turns out to be a mental case. He has nightmares about being bullied in school, and a girl, the only one who spoke up for him got gangraped in front of him as a reward. One would think he feels bad because he froze and couldn’t help her, but in reality he was turned on by watching and wanted to join in but wasn’t allowed. He is being controlled by means of brainwash and hypnotism by Gijiin who wants his revenge for being expelled from the syndicate. Kakihara sees Ichi as the “perfect pervert” and can’t wait to meet him for their final fight.

Despite the gore and the body parts is Ichi the Killer probably the most “mainstream” of the Takashi Miike films I have seen.

My verdict: 10 out of 10.

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Deco Truck Gal Nami

Deco Truck Gal Nami - Dekotora Gyaru Nami

Leone, Japan, 2008
AKA: Dekotora Gyaru Nami, Big Bad Mama-San: Dekotora 1
Director: Hideo Jôjô
Writer: Hideo Jôjô
Cast: Toshio Arikik, Keitaro Azumi, Slappy Cortez, Mack De’erens, Fukuten, Tiffany Grant, Ben Hammered, Jay Hickman, Hiroaki Hinjaiji, Horiken, Ryôichi Inaba, Shun Kando, Hiroyuki Kaneko, Wakato Kanematsu, Takashi Kawasaki, Tamana Kiku, Rino Konno, Nanaka Kozaki, Vicky Manjina, Yûya Matsuura, Maru Moriizumi, Seiji Nakamitsu, Eiji Nakamura, Kazutomo Nakatsukasa, Masayoshi Nogami, Yûichirô Sakamoto, Rusty J. Sequoia, Manzô Shinra, John Swasey, Atsushi Tobita, Masahiko Tsugawa, Kazuaki Tsuji, Wataru Tsunashima, Masaomi Ueda, Shuhei Yamashita, Mutsuo Yoshioka, Akiho Yoshizawa

No werewolves, vampires, zombies, aliens or even serialkillers in this one. It is a comedy/drama but it is bizarre enough though..

Akiho Yoshizawa began her film career in the adult business at age 18. She did some nude modelling which led to contracts with two different film companies the following year. She was hard working and most of the time she did a movie every month, alternating between the two companies. Several of her early films were incest-themed and she won some awards for her roles. Three years later she “moved up” by signing contracts with two new, bigger AV-companies. Apart from her work in hardcore movies she’s been doing softcore, mainstream films and appeared on television and have won numerous awards. In 2004 she was in the horror movie Koibone and she’s also done science-fiction (so she’s sort of on topic anyway). In Japan she is a superstar and when she retired from the film industry (or at least the adult film industry) this year she did it by going on a tour from January 1 to march 31 to meet and greet her fans and at the same time she released her last film, AV Complete Withdrawal ~ FINAL SEX ~ Yoshizawa Akiho, together with a documentary of her life and carrer.

Deco Truck Gal Nami was a huge hit in Japan when it came. It got three sequels all starring Yoshizawa, and it spawned an entire new genre of “Lady Trucker films”.

Nami is a female truckdriver. She inherited a “Deco Truck” or dekotora, which is an extremely decorated truck popular in Japan, commonly displaying neon or ultraviolet lights, extravagant paints, and stainless or golden parts (both on the exterior and the interior). Dekotora may be created by workers out of their work trucks for fun, or they may be designed by hobbyists for special events. They are sometimes also referred to as art trucks. Unfortunately she also inherited large debts, but she’s working hard to pay them off. Her father was a legend among truck drivers and Nami is on her way to be one her self. Lady truck drivers are rare so Nami has to be tough and stand up against her male colleagues.

She runs in to the prostitute Momoka and they eventually become friends. There are truck races, trucker gangs, crazy police men and even more crazy truckers often hanging out at a truck stop/noodle restaurant.

Momoka sometimes messes things up a bit for Nami, and one evening they find a box by the deco truck. Nami believes Momoka just forgott to load it and tells her to put it in the back, before they take off. Problem is it belonged to some Mafia guys. They come after the girls and decide not only to take back the box, but to rape and murder the girls.

Deco Truck Gal Nami is fun if You like over the top films. Everyone is weird and crazy, the girls are cute, the men not so cute and sex is hilarious. We get T&A combined with a feminist message which is a contradiction in it self. Another contradiction is the sad ending of this wild comedy. I wont give anything away, but watch it if You get the opportunity. It’s worth it, but if You have a choise go for the japanese original with subtitles instead of the dubbed “american” version with added country music and all. That one really suck!

My verdict: 7 out of 10.