Ichii the Killer (2001)

Rating: B

Dir: Takashi Miike
Star: Tadanobu Asano, Nao Omori, Shinya Tsukamoto

Definitely one of the more twisted movies we’ve seen, least of all first thing on a Sunday morning – hey, we couldn’t find the DVD remote the night before. Hard to say who’s the sickest: Yakuza psychopath Kakihara (Asano), a hardcore masochist with a double-wide mouth, hypnotised psychopath Ichi (Omori), with a blade in his shoes and revenge in his heart, or Miike, for depicting the sick carnage with a glee that places it somewhere between Tom and Jerry and Braindead. Kakihara is after Ichi, suspecting him of involvement in the disappearance of his boss and, probably more importantly, 100 million yen. His inquiries involve torturing, in imaginative fashion, anyone who knows anything, while Ichi slaughters people who remind him of the bullies who made his school-life hell. Or maybe didn’t, because those memories may be false, a deliberate implant by his mentor (Tsukamoto).

Both the start and the end will likely have you going “Eh?” – the former is fractured, leaping around so much it borders on incoherence, while the finale apparently only makes sense if you’ve read the manga on which it’s based. This is a cheat. Luckily, once it settles down, the middle has more warped imagination than most people will be able to handle; damage, of the most up-close and personal kind, abounds. One sample will suffice (the less you’re expecting these, the greater their FM!RT! impact): when Kakihara screws up, he doesn’t do the usual mobster thing of losing a finger. He slices the front of his tongue away…then carries on with life, chatting away on his mobile phone. If that sounds like the coolest thing you’ve ever seen – and it probably makes our top 50 – this is the film for you.