Ichi The Killer

DVD Rating: ***

Reviewed by: Keith Hennessey Brown

Read Keith Hennessey Brown's film review of Ichi The Killer
Ichi The Killer

While one should be grateful that Ichi the Killer has been passed by the BBFC at all and can understand the difficulties that sexualised violence poses them, their cuts still feel misguided. Miike's artistic vision is being distorted, even if that vision is one which happens to includes nipple slicing and a detective in the Yakuza's employ getting Ichi's scent by sniffing at the crotch of a woman he raped.

Otherwise, Premier Asia has clearly done all it can to best the competition from grey market imports and make this the definitive UK Ichi DVD release.

Copy picture

The film itself is presented in anamorphic widescreen, which is clean, sharp, free from artefacting and up to the challenges that the panoply of techniques on display present, with a choice of Japanese and English dub 5.1 audio mixes, both with sufficient punch to them.

The feature length commentary from Asian cinema expert Bey Logan, actress Paulyn "Alien" Sun and producer Elliot Tong is not so satisfactory. Logan is less knowledgeable about Japanese culture and cinema than he is about its Hong Kong counterparts, while Sun and Tong provide few worthwhile insights into Miike's ideas and methods. With Sun not knowing Japanese and Miike only knowing Japanese all their communications had to be through gestures and interpreters.

An outside expert, able to contextualise Ichi in relation to Miike's other films and the likes of the Rapeman manga and Guinea Pig films, or who could note the allusion to Akira Kurosawa's Stray Dog in the supporting character of a disgraced cop, would have been welcome.

Thankfully the interviews on the second disc with Miike, Sun, Tanobano Asano and Shinya Tsukamoto fill in many of these gaps.

Of the four interviews, Miike's is unsurprisingly longest, running slightly over half an hour compared to the 10 minutes or so alloted the others. It is also the best, illuminating Miike's beliefs about the filmmaking process (if filmmakers do not enjoy what they are doing, how can the audience be expected to do so?), rationale for casting other directors (they bring a combination of experience and freshness to a production), preference for deliberately unrealistic CGI and much more.

The Alien Sun glamour gallery, while making for pleasant viewing, perhaps sits uneasily along with the film, if indeed "pornography is the theory and rape the practice..."

The package is rounded off with the traditional biographies and filmographies, behind-the-scenes and promotional gallery, UK and Japanese trailers for the film and a showcase of other Premier Asia releases.

If this was not enough, the DVD-ROM material includes an electronic press kit with an alternate Miike interview, out-takes and further behind-the-scenes material.

All told, a suitably excessive, if slightly hit and miss, DVD package.

Reviewed on: 06 Dec 2003
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Ichi The Killer packshot
Ultra-violent film about an autistic-turned-killing machine.
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Product Code: MDV804

Region: 2

Ratio: 16:9 Anamorphic widescreen

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Audio commentary by Bey Logan, Paulyn Sun, Elliot Tong; Interviews with Takashi Miike, Paulyn Sun, Tanobano Asano, Shinya Tsukamoto; Trailer gallery; Electronic press kit

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