Underneath the spillage and flow of this gonzo activity, Miike layers a blood-stained commentary on a toxic world in which men offer protection to men but really end up dooming them to exist within a spasmodic, shambolic, and hypermasculine sphere of violence.
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Unhinged even for Takashi Miike, Ichi the Killer suggests a bloody and ejaculate-stained Rorschach inkblot, reveling in ultraviolence that can be interpreted to flatter any adventurous audience's sensibilities.
The direction occasionally rises to the level of marginal competence, but for most of the film it is hard to tell who is chasing who or why.
Completely over-the-top yakuza actioner -- featuring nonstop mayhem, gore, torture and S&M -- duly reflects its comic book origins in both style and barely coherent narrative frenzy.
This time around, the cult director dispenses with the feminism, the satire, and even the issues, so he can concentrate on his true passion: the dissecting.
Takashi knows how to make a great, sleazy Yakuza film, but what Im missing here is that sense of something brand new.
The torture is strictly for kicks, which spoiled this for me, but less skittish viewers may enjoy this as a stylish and tightly wound genre piece.
Any serious message has been sacrificed on the altar of excess, making us realize why the stylish story probably worked better as a graphic comic book than as a film.
Takashi Miike's frenetic comic yakuza thriller embodies the best and worst this notorious Japanese genre auteur has to offer: It's endlessly inventive, consistently intelligent and sickeningly savage.
One of Miike's most violent and sadistic movies, filled with squirting blood, throat-slashing, limb-hacking and other forms of mutilation too gruesome to describe here.