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A hide-your-eyes endurance test from notorious director Takashi Miike, Ichi the Killer follows a peroxided S&M jester with body piercings and a gaping slash extending his mouth into a perpetual, Joker-like grin who tortures his way through the underworld to find out who killed his gangster boss.
The most notorious film by Japan’s master provocateur Takashi Miike—though Audition could give it a run for its money—Ichi the Killer is a gruelling, outlandishly hyper-violent manga adaptation set in the Tokyo underworld. When a yakuza boss is murdered as part of a complex plot to set the city’s clans against another, his borderline insane bodyguard Kakihara (Tadanobu Asano)— a peroxided S&M jester with body piercings and a gaping slash extending his mouth into a perpetual, Joker-like grin—starts torturing his way through the underworld to find out who was responsible. When his bloody investigation reveals the existence of a human killing machine named Ichi—a latex-suited homicidal maniac with razors concealed in his heels—Kakihara believes that he has finally found the person who can give him the pain he craves. It goes without saying that this hide-your-eyes endurance test is not for the squeamish: when Ichi played Midnight Madness in 2001, the Festival thoughtfully provided vomit bags to the first-night audience.