Ichi the Killer is one of the most influential movies of the early 2000s. It is absolutely one of the standout films from director Takashi Miike, which says a lot, because he’s directed over 100 of them. There’s something about Ichi that is still powerful, though, still relevant. I first saw this in a Japanese film course my freshman year of college and instantly fell in love with both it and its director, who I’d heard of before. It’s even more interesting to watch Ichi now after so many other films have clearly been influenced by it.
It’s one of dozens of movies Miike has made about the Yakuza, so it’s worth it to think about what made this one resonate in particular. Why has Ichi resonated worldwide in a way that some of his other movies dealing with the same subject matter haven’t? Which is not a slight against those films, either, as some of them are incredibly underrated, including the recent Yakuza Apocalypse. There’s something about the extremity of the images coupled with artistry of it that makes Ichi so appealing. It’s Miike at his most Argento and that’s not a bad thing because he goes much further than even Argento ever would.
That’s especially apparent in the new transfer, which is stunning. Well Go outdid themselves, as Ichi has never looked better. Everything pops in this new transfer, especially the colors. The special features aren’t altogether lacking—there is a commentary with both Miike and Yamamoto, which is fantastic.
I wish more commentaries would include both the filmmaker and the author of the source material, as it presents a great discussion and a totally unique take. Other than that, though, we’ve only got a still gallery and a trailer. For a definitive edition, it actually doesn’t offer that much in the way of special features. The only real issue there is that it would have been so easy just to port over special features from previous releases, especially the 2003 Blood Pack DVD, which is still one of the best DVD releases of all time.
Even still, Ichi is worth the purchase for the restoration, which is gorgeous. The film itself is, at times, incredibly hard to watch—very few Miike films are safe for the squeamish, after all—but that juxtaposition of beautiful shots of absolutely grotesque is exactly what makes Takashi Miike such a prominent filmmaker in the first place.
Ichi the Killer drops March 20th from Well Go USA Entertainment.
WICKED RATING: 8/10