Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 25th, 2018
BluRay released: March 20th, 2018
Approximate running time: 128 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Japanese, Dolby Digital Stereo Surround Japanese
BluRay Release: Well Go USA
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.98
Synopsis: A Yakuza boss disappears with 300 million yen and is presumed dead. His right-hand man Kakihara, a sadistic madman is put in charge of finding out what happened to his boss and dealing with those involved. At first things run smoothly, until Kakihara crosses paths with another psychopath named Ichi, who is being lead around by a retired cop, who uses Ichi to carry out vigilante justice against those, who have slipped through the cracks of the system.
Ichi The Killer was directed by Takashi Miike, a prolific and diverse filmmaker who has left his undeniable mark in every genre he has worked in. Other notable films directed by Takashi Miike include, Audition, The Happiness of the Katakuris, Sukiyaki Western Django and Lesson of the Evil.
Chances are that if you are familiar with Takshi Miike, then you have seen Ichi The Killer. It is, along with his film Audition, his most distinguished and memorable films to date. And like all great artists you know their work immediately and this is definitely true of Takashi Miike, who in a matter of moments, shows you something you have seen and yet never in that way before.
The film Ichi The Killer has been talked about and analyzed thousands of times over. And yet each new person, who sees this unique film, comes away with something that is wholly their own. On the surface Ichi The Killer is filled with blood, guts, brutally to men and women and an occasional shot of semen. Most importantly, it is laced with a dark sense of humor, making all the imagery that Takashi Miike is bombarding us with, all the more disturbing.
Performance wise, everyone, including the secondary roles, all do a great job selling their performances. And yet there is one performance that towers above all. That performance is Tadanobu Asano in the role of Kakihara. He delivers a performance that is filled with a kind of intensity, that rarely works in film and yet he manages to walk dangerously close to the edge, without ever going too far.
My favorite moment in the film, is the scene where Kakihara cuts off his tongue to prove his loyalty. And what I found most ironic about this scene, is how all the Yakuza in the room turn their head and cringe at the sight of his tongue being sliced off.
A lot of what makes Ichi The Killer so special, is not its violent tone, but the way that Takashi Miike deals with violence in general. And if you go into the film, with a sense of humor and looking for more than just sadism or gore, then you are sure to enjoy this film. Ultimately Ichi The Killer is an orgy of carnage that hits all the right notes and makes all the right incisions.
Ichi The Killer comes on a 25 GB single layer (21.3 GB) BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. The 4k transfer that was used for this release was sourced from a 35mm inter-negative.
And this disclaimer about the transfer appears before the film.
“Ichi The Killer is a 2001 Japanese crime-horror film. Adpated from the manga series of the same name and the directed by Takashi Miike, it was shot originally on 16mm, telecined in HD video for post-production, before filmed out on 35mm inter-negative for the making of release prints.
A full digital restoration of the director’s cut of Ichi The Killer was undertaken by Emperor Motion Pictures in 2017. A new transfer was created in 4k resolution from a 35mm inter-negative at L’Immagine Ritrovata in Bologna, Italy. It was then digitally restored and colour graded in 4k resolution.
With a running time of 128 minutes, this restored version of Ichi The Killer, as approved by Takashi Miike, is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1.”
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in Japanese and a Dolby Digital stereo surround mix in Japanese. The DTS-HD 5.1 mix sounds robust, dialog always sounds clear, everything sounds balanced and the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented. Included with this release are removable English subtitles.
Extras for this release include, a stills gallery, a new trailer created for this release and an archival audio commentary with director Takashi Miike and manga artist / writer Hideo Yamamoto. The audio commentary is in Japanese with English subtitles.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, the score, the opening credits, special effects / CGI, the cast, censorship related issues that this film faced in various countries that is was released in, production related topics, audience reaction to the film and their thoughts about the film.
Other extras include trailers for Gintama, The Villainess and Phantasm.
Overall Ichi The Killer gets a solid audio / video presentation from Well Go USA, recommended.
Well Go USA BluRay