STUDIO: Unearthed Films
MSRP: $19.99
RUNNING TIME: 83 Minutes
• Conversation with Takashi Miike and Masato Tanno
• Trailers

Takashi Miike’s Ichi The Killer started making festival rounds in 2001,
distributors gave it immediate notoriety by handing out barf bags at each
screening. Four years later, I wish I had my Ichi lunch-catcher. Not that this
direct to video prequel has any of the original’s gore, mind you. Instead, I
feel sick because I haven’t seen a more egregious example of bargain basement
intellectual property strip-mining all year.

The Flick

I should
state first that I reserve no particular love for Ichi The Killer. In
actuality, I think it’s a bad movie, albeit a bad movie that’s made with
incredible energy. It’s memorable and inventive, which is a lot more than I can
say for 1 Ichi.

This is exactly how I felt watching 1 Ichi.

prequel needs a hook. Here, the idea is that we see how Ichi developed his
fighting prowess, and how he came into the hands of his controller, Jijii. No

Much of
the film revolves around high school badass Dai, played by Teah from Dead
or Alive 2
. Dai beats the hell out of everyone he meets, typically with
a flurry of slow roundhouse punches which can be easily choreographed even by
the slowest stunt actor. During one brawl, Dai notices Shiroishi (Nao Omori,
reprising his role) watching the action. We’re supposed to know that Shiroishi
— the future Ichi — gets off on the violence, but Dai isn’t privy to that

Audience Insight 2
This is exactly NOT how I felt watching 1 Ichi.

The thin
plot that unwinds sees Dai trying to track down Ichi, and eventually
encountering an even bigger badass meant to fully ‘awaken’ Ichi’s fighting
spirit. In the meantime, we see Ichi’s humiliation at the hands of others, and
there’s some bullshit psychobabble that implies that Dai and Ichi are somehow
connected. Adding insult to injury, the film is padded with high school
goofballs who wouldn’t even make the cut on a Saved By The Bell reunion.

drivel, every second of it.

Miike’s movie, any audience would go into 1 Ichi expecting something, but director Masato Tanno has
got an empty bag of tricks. All the disparate story elements meant to
illustrate Ichi’s background really tell us nothing, and are boring to boot.
The fights aren’t even up to amateur standards — picture television actors
whipping their heads back and forth to simulate being punched — and Tanno
didn’t have the time, money or skill to show off in the two moments where Ichi
is truly unleashed. You’ve been warned.

1 out of 10

Guest director for this shot: Peter Fonda

The Look

people shoot films on video and they come out looking like art. Hal Hartley’s
The Book of Life, for example, or The Best Brazailian Butts 6. Other people use
video and it looks like they took a camera to school. I know Masato Tanno had
no money and little time to make 1 Ichi, but with the exception of a few shots,
there’s not even any thinking in evidence, much less artistic inspiration. The
transfer is clear and as sharp as cheap video can be, which makes it all the
more obvious.

3 out of 10

Guest director for this shot: John Woo

The Noise

One of
the highlights of Ichi The Killer was the weirdo score by Karera Musication,
which was really the last stand of the Boredoms, minus eYe. That’s tough to
beat, and the imitative efforts of Battle Table just don’t cut it. I don’t know
which is worse: that the band is called ‘Battle Table’, which sounds like a
dangerous ping pong match, or that actor Tadanobu Asano was supposedly
involved. Anyway, the music and thudding punches sound fine.

8 out of 10

The Goodies

I made
the mistake of watching the conversation between Miike and Tanno before the
film. Miike comments that he doesn’t know whether or not a film like this can
be released, which got my hopes up. Little did I realize that he was referring
to the quality, not the content. The rest of the interview is passable, if
fairly superficial. In reality, the best extra is the trailer for Tadanobu
Asano’s Electric Dragon 80,000 Volts.

4 out of 10

"I’ll be back in a minute. Just have to drop this off at Dave’s suite."

The Artwork

The best
thing about this package is the elegant artwork, with a super-saturated video
of Ichi crouching almost hidden under the film’s giant logo. It’s almost enough
to make you think the film is worth a look, until the stills on the back give
it away as a dreary high school fight flick.

8 out of 10

Overall: 2 out of 10