Director: Takashi Miike
Triangles are my favourite shape. They have three points where two lines meet. Two opposing forces heading towards the same destination. Ichi The Killer triangulates us with its primary characters, two assassins who respond only to pain, but in very different ways.
On one side, we have Kakihara – a rogue Yakuza member by profession and a sadomasochist at heart. He’s a practitioner of extreme physical torture, both self-inflicted and on anyone who betrays him or accidentally spills his herbal tea. On the other side, we have Ichi – a man-child who annihilates those who commit atrocities on the innocents, especially women and children.
These two remind us of Batman and Joker in the sense that they motivate each other through pain. Kakihara feeds off it to feel alive while Ichi needs it to live another day; their inclination towards it however is similarly perfunctory.
Most of the characters in Ichi the Killer are terrifying considering their propensity for violence, especially Matsuo – Kakihara’s sidekick. He treats violence neither as a luxury nor a deviancy. He looks at it like a mandatory chore and comes across as being utterly vicious.
Audition was Takashi Miike’s most stylish work and Visitor Q – his boldest, Ichi the Killer falls somewhere in-between and lurks amongst the shadows like that bald fellow who played Satan in Passion of Christ.