Saturday, June 21, 2003

[MOVIES] Ichi The Killer

If you click on the "2003 Movie List @ HTF" link on the side, you'll see that the movie sitting in dead last (as of this writing) is Adam Sandler crapfest Anger Management. Why, you may ask, has Ichi The Killer not displaced it, but instead wedged itself a little higher up, between The Recruit and The Warrior? Because, unlike those movies, Ichi never bored me. It shocked me, disgusted me, confused me, and I feel guilty for laughing at some of its grotesque absurdity, but never once did I feel like I was wasting my time.

This is not a movie for the faint of heart - if my mother is reading this, I'm warning her to stay away and promising that I will do everything possible to keep Matt away from this when he comes here this fall. The list of things that would get this movie an NC-17 rating if it was submitted are spelled out in the IMDB entry. It's exploitive, depraved, and violent without anybody becoming a better person in the end. It is, however, clearly the work of talented people. Hidden amidst the bloodletting are characters who, while nasty, are also a heck of a lot more interesting than they have any right to be. The movie is based upon a manga and retains a comic-book sense of style and absurdity (along with giving Ichi a costume many American superheros would love). I'd expect nothing less from Takashi Miike, but must admit I prefer something not quite so nihilistic.

I can't recommend this movie, not even a two-star "it's below average, but doesn't actively suck" rating. But, at the same time, I can't say it didn't grab me and hold my attention for two hours, even if I spent a lot of that time looking away.

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