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Erich
01-08-2004, 02:47 PM
Have you ever seen a movie that just left you sitting there with your eyes wide open, begging for more? If you have seen any movie by Miike Takashi (Fudoh, Dead or Alive, Audition), I am sure you know the feeling I speak of. There is something about the man; he is a pure cinema-genius. Just like “City of Lost Souls” (just to name one fond example), his new classic “Ichi the Killer” will have your undivided attention from the very first minute – it is just that good. However, this new venture into modern-Japanese filmmaking may be too raw for many – Miike Takashi is known for his graphic style and themes, but “Ichi the Killer” may well be his most difficult-to-watch movie yet.

Early into the movie the viewer is forced to watch as Boss Anjo, the leader of a local yakuza clan, sadistically tortures and “makes love” to one of his prostitutes. Sadism at its “finest” (most would say its worst, actually), as Anjo takes a baseball bat to her face multiple times, and kicks her in the face until he is aroused enough to complete his rape of the girl. Meanwhile, the severely-unstable killer Ichi is outside the window masturbating to the sight. In case readers do not realize just what Miike Takashi is like, and need more hints, the next scene shows Ichi’s sperm dripping into a puddle, and the title drifts up out of the mess (and in order to get a realistic visual, the sperm was real - provided by Tsukamoto Shinya, the equally legendary director/actor who starred in this movie as Jijii). Now that everyone is on the same page about what to expect, back to the plot. Boss Anjo and the girl both disappear, presumed to have been killed by an enemy gang. Kakihara, the sadistic Chief of the gang, refuses to believe that Anjo - the only man who is capable of hurting Kakihara physically enough to arouse his lust – is dead. Kakihara and the remaining loyalists in the gang go on to tear Shinjuku to pieces, searching for this “Ichi,” who supposedly did murder the boss. But there seems to be someone behind Ichi pulling the strings. What follows is over an hour and a half of graphic violence, torture, self-mutilation, rape and practically everything except necrophilia - and as with every other Miike movie, it is best if you go into it knowing little of the details.

While some people may love to see this movie now that they know this, it is more likely that more will shy away from it. If you are queasy about any of the above topics it may be hard to watch this movie – but at the same time, I feel I need to recommend this to everyone. Miike Takashi has such an aura around himself (and therefore his movies) that I simply can not pin it down – but his style – both in editing and in music (and elsewhere) shines here more brightly than in most of his works. To sum him up in a word: genius. This movie is steeped in edgy style, and will simply amaze thrill-seekers.

The Tokyo Shock dvd is simply a joy to own. I should add, there is an “Unrated” and an “R” rated version of the movie – this review is for the “Unrated” form, however this is possibly the first movie where I will suggest that some may wish to see the censored disc (roughly 10 minutes of footage was cut to clean it up). However, the “R” version does not get the high-quality Dolby 5.1 audio track (Japanese with burnt English subtitles), and it does not get the audio commentary with Miike-san and Manga writer Yamamoto Hideo. Due to time constraints, I have not listened to the entire commentary yet, but the first 30 minutes are fun to listen to and very informative. The disc also has four trailers (Versus, Visitor Q, Pistol Opera, and Samurai Fiction), and a photo gallery. An all-around good disc for an excellently controversial movie – if you like to shock yourself, you will love “Ichi the Killer.” I try to avoid giving very high scores, but this movie/dvd has earned a perfect 10/10. Enjoy.

Breakdown
Story: 10 / 10
Audio: 5 / 5
Video: 5 / 5
DVD: 5 / 5
Total: 10 / 10

Zodiac-Mindwarp
01-08-2004, 07:28 PM
Nice review Erich.

I just got this recently (Unrated of course), and really liked it a lot. A crazy flick, for those who enjoy the twisted storytelling and violence that Miike is so damn good at presenting.

Looking forward to adding more of Miike's films to my collection in the future.

BloodMan
01-08-2004, 07:56 PM
You guys have to add GOZU to your collections of Miike's work! Totally messed up stuff.
Ichi is pretty good by the way! Nice review Erich!

Nick

SaviniFan
01-08-2004, 08:09 PM
Not to be picky but it's Takashi Miike, not the other way around. Aside from that you write a very good review. Nice job!

Erich
01-08-2004, 09:12 PM
Not to be picky but it's Takashi Miike, not the other way around. Aside from that you write a very good review. Nice job!


haha, actually... In Japanese culture, it is proper to put the surname first - so to be "correct," it IS Miike Takashi. It isn't a real big deal anyway, and even I wind up flowing back and forth with which I use.

**Oh yeah - and thanks for the compliments. I find it so hard to do his movies credit... there is just so much you *could* say, but then you'd wind up ruining the feel of the movie. Really, the best way to describe "Ichi"... :banana:

Disco Stu
01-09-2004, 05:04 AM
Erich, I don't mean for you to take this the wrong way, but it is a pet peeve of mine regarding reviews, that you have fallen into the trap of doing. You haven't touched the actual film itself, just described the plot and told us that you thought it was a good film, and that it's difficult to explain why. A review should give you the impression that you've seen the movie, which, from yours, I couldn't say you have. What can you tell us about the movie's themes? What did you see and understand about the movie that no one else does? No mention of the multi-layered ending? Nothing about the fascinating psychology of the character of Kakihara? If the movie is worthy of a 10, a rarity from you, why? What separates it from other hack and slash movies? Why is it better than other Miike movies? You can't expect us to take your word on it, without ever providing reason for us to trust you. Lots of people love Ichi the Killer, but it's not important that they do, it's important why. If everyone liked Fight Club because they liked to see people getting beaten up, or Natural Born Killers because it was really violent, don't you think the point of the movie is lost? Your job as a critic should be to convince us with your opinion, but still avoid hyperbole without backing it up. Details and specifics are important. If you think I'm picking on you, that's not the idea here. Since I can tell you are just starting out in reviewing, there is time for improvement and adjustment. I had a similar discussion with Michael Elliott, a reviewer for the HTF, here (http://www.dvdmaniacs.net/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=11400), but he is far too stuck in his pattern and too stubborn to ever modify his style. The thread is a few pages, but certainly a good read.


Also, I'm not sure what kind of equipment you are using, and what kind of cables, but from all evidence, the transfer on the Tokyo Shock disc of Ichi the Killer is overly compressed, faded, out of focus, and suffers from a lot of color bleeding. Not as bad as TLA's Suicide Circle, but certainly sub-par. I have seen the Toky Shock version, and it was very poor in comparison to the Dutch R2. There are some screenshots on this site (http://www.dvdbeaver.com/) comparing the two different discs (I didn't take them, nor did I do the comparison) and it's quite striking how poor the TS disc is, once you see the Dutch set.

Dutch
http://207.136.67.23/film/dvdcompare/ichi/1_57_12ff.jpg

vs.

Tokyo Shock
http://207.136.67.23/film/dvdcompare/ichi/r1_6.jpg

Some of the other images they have up are amazingly different. See how poor the color separation on the Tokyo Shock disc is?

Erich
01-09-2004, 06:29 AM
I was afraid this would happen with a movie like Ichi. :) You're right, I didn't go into a lot of character analysis/etc, and I no it will bother you to hear it, but that isn't what I am trying to do with my reviews. I've tried that a couple of times, but I just prefer to write quicker ones - especially since mine are normally written with the "gee, i just got home from work at 12:30am, and i can't fall asleep... so what have i watched recently..." mentality.
As for you correcting me on my opinions of the video quality - I do have a good setup with better than average cables, and it does make a visible difference. I would disagree with you saying the movie is faded/out of focus - I definately didn't notice that. As for the color fading, yeah - pictures don't lie. However, using the exact picture you used, I didn't think much of it since I just figured that the FEW scenes that were that greenish tint were like that because of intended effects - maybe the video does only deserve a 4/5, but I'll save that rating for you to use some day, since I don't re-work my reviews.
As for the link to the other forum postings, I promise to check it out some other time - but right now I am too tired to focus on improving my spare-time hobby to being a professional level. :rolleyes:

Disco Stu
01-09-2004, 07:12 AM
I was afraid this would happen with a movie like Ichi. :) You're right, I didn't go into a lot of character analysis/etc, and I no it will bother you to hear it, but that isn't what I am trying to do with my reviews. I've tried that a couple of times, but I just prefer to write quicker ones - especially since mine are normally written with the "gee, i just got home from work at 12:30am, and i can't fall asleep... so what have i watched recently..." mentality.
Your review is 700 words before the final ratings are given. Clearly this is not "a quick one while she's away." I'm not asking for character anaylsis or something that would be more suited to a book in terms of depth. However, you should differentiate yourself from an IMDB summary. This has nothing to do with it being "a movie like Ichi." If you're writing a review of House of the Dead, the idea would still be the same. What did you like about Ichi? What was so great about the gore? It can't be just that it was plentiful. If Miike, as you put it, is a genius, there must be something that makes it so. Why do you think he is a genius? Give me an example of his "edgy style." Give me a reason that your review has any more validity than someone you ran into at the video store and said "yeah, I liked it. I thought it was pretty good."


As for you correcting me on my opinions of the video quality - I do have a good setup with better than average cables, and it does make a visible difference. I would disagree with you saying the movie is faded/out of focus - I definately didn't notice that. As for the color fading, yeah - pictures don't lie. However, using the exact picture you used, I didn't think much of it since I just figured that the FEW scenes that were that greenish tint were like that because of intended effects - maybe the video does only deserve a 4/5, but I'll save that rating for you to use some day, since I don't re-work my reviews. Having seen Ichi in the theater, I can tell you it's supposed to look like the first image, not the second one. Look at the clarity, the depth, the details, it's all very obvious from these images. I'll put up another image which shows other issues with the Tokyo Shock disc.

Dutch
http://207.136.67.23/film/dvdcompare/ichi/21_41.jpg


Tokyo Shock
http://207.136.67.23/film/dvdcompare/ichi/r1_1.jpg

In the TS version, the guy holding the gun is almost out of focus, and you can't even tell he has any light on him at all. Look at the guy in the background on the left side. On the bottom image he looks like he's a ghost, as if it had PAL transfer problems. He's almost blended into the wall.

Dutch
http://207.136.67.23/film/dvdcompare/ichi/44_35.jpg


Tokyo Shock
http://207.136.67.23/film/dvdcompare/ichi/r1_4.jpg

In TS' image there seems to be only one predominate color, piss yellow. The image is hazy and out of focus. Look how much detail all the signs lack. No one has any natural color in their face.


As for the link to the other forum postings, I promise to check it out some other time - but right now I am too tired to focus on improving my spare-time hobby to being a professional level. :rolleyes:
I assume you write because you want to be read. You want to share your opinions with people and you want them to trust what you have to say. This has nothing to do with being a professional (even Michael is not a professional since he is not paid to write reviews), you can casually give your opinion and give an explanation as to why you feel that way. People will be more likely to listen to you if you can explain why you liked or disliked a movie (or anything for that matter). Nowhere does it say you have to write a 40,000 word review of each movie, but clearly you take it seriously if you bothered to start a site with many of your reviews posted there. Using examples and specifics is not just a part of writing reviews of DVDs, it's how people effectively communicate with each other. Otherwise, we're just a bunch of grunters who know how to use profanity.

dwatts
01-09-2004, 07:22 AM
Damn, that Tokyo disc is clearly crapola. No way I'd buy that, it's horrid.

What's worse, someone who writes a plot synopsis only, or some pretentious blow hard trying to make themselves sound intelligent?

Answer: Neither, they're equally bad.

The best way to write is to be yourself. It's your personality that will make or break you. Too many critics and reviewers are so busy proving they can analyze a film, they come across as having no personality whatsoever. You can't hide behind facts. It's equally bad writing. You can be taught to analyze films, you can be taught to write the english word, but style has to be your own. Some people take years finding a style, some never find it. Some have it from day one.

Some actually write for fun. Nothing wrong with that.

Disco Stu
01-09-2004, 07:39 AM
Damn, that Tokyo disc is clearly crapola. No way I'd buy that, it's horrid.

What's worse, someone who writes a plot synopsis only, or some pretentious blow hard trying to make themselves sound intelligent?

Answer: Neither, they're equally bad.
Agreed. However a pretentious blow hard is probably not going to provide any examples either, just use larger words.

The best way to write is to be yourself. It's your personality that will make or break you. Too many critics and reviewers are so busy proving they can analyze a film, they come across as having no personality whatsoever. You can't hide behind facts. It's equally bad writing. You can be taught to analyze films, you can be taught to write the english word, but style has to be your own. Some people take years finding a style, some never find it. Some have it from day one.

Some actually write for fun. Nothing wrong with that.
The goal would be to combine all of these things, learning to write, learning to analyze, and infusing your personality. My personality happens to be using larger words and overly analyzing things, but generally a lot of examples, sarcasm, and irony. I am not suggesting that Erich try to turn into me, but at this point, I don't sense much of his personality in the reviews.

shift
01-13-2004, 01:39 PM
The dutch release is way better. I have to see this dammit!!

puddytay
01-14-2004, 06:04 AM
anyone know how the new usa SE looks because I've been contemplating picking that up?

Erich
01-15-2004, 06:03 AM
By USA SE, do you mean the Tokyo Shock Unrated version? That is what I have/reviewed, and despite what the pictures above seem to show, I stand by my review. Maybe I just got the Top-Secret Unrated Edition, but mine doesn't look half as bad as the pictures imply.