Ichi the Killer

Director: Takashi Miike
Year Released: 2001
Rating: 3.0

What a doozy: Ichi the Killer, Miike's black comedy/horror picture, is an intense, non-stop, you-asked-for-it rush ... and I'm pleasantly surprised, fearing it would have the highs-and-lows manic-depression of Dead or Alive. Having witnessed the intellectual brilliance of Audition, I know there's a method to the director's madness, and he's having a poke at (not only) psychologically deteriorating Japan but American action and horror movies (Ichi's knife-in-boot reminds me of the female killer in From Russia With Love and the knife in her boot), technology (cell phones are a running joke, ringing in the middle of scenes of torture), masculine pleasure gained through humiliating women (Japan is notorious for its bondage) and video game fanaticism (Ichi dresses like an armored superhero). It's a deconstructionist exercise, and one in which you aren't handed your sick thrills ... you're force-fed.