There's an unmistakable gaudy élan to the film but the level of painful detail depicted serves little purpose other than to create the rawest of sensations - to what end? In a sense a logical extension - perhaps more truthful given it doesn't flinch - of the current trend for pulpy cartoons which negate true horror for slam-dunk fibs, but skill aside, it's not a film to revisit however one tries to rationalise it.
This film lies in the middle ground in Miike's spectrum, with horrendously unnecessary on one end and delightfully mesmerizing on the other. Somewhere in between, around the centre, this film teeters - it's a disgustingly violent story that remains silly and humourous, with gangsters and lunatics aplenty. Though it does not live up to its cult hype, it is certainly entertaining the first time around.
the plot itself is weak but i feel like a lot of yakuza films are prone to this. what makes ichi the killer different is its aesthetic of violence. the portrayal of the human body as meat and an art form as it's hung from the ceiling, tattooed, pierced, dismembered, and burned makes you really think. but about what we're supposed to think about, i do not know.
Despite being one of Miike's most notorious (and possibly, most well-known) film's, this is also one of his weakest. Yet, weak Miike is still more exhilrating than 95% of other directors working today.
Somehow this film keeps me curious and coming back, everytime I see it I'm more disgusted and more put off but I still watch it at least once a year. If you can get past the ridiculously overwrought violence and some pretty awful CGI, there's a movie that's fascinating in a morbid way, funny, horrific, well-acted and for some reason, thought-provoking. I for one loved the ending.