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[Review] Ichi The Killer; The Eye

Old 07-12-02, 07:54 PM
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[Review] Ichi The Killer; The Eye

Ichi The Killer

Director: Takashi Miike

DVD: Universe Laser
Region 3 NTSC
Audio: DD2.0 and DD5.1 Japanese
Subtitle: Removable English Subtitles
Video: Letterbox

The Story:
The title character is a meek hitman who has to be under hypnotic suggestion in order to carry out his killings. He's a weak spirited crybaby obsessed with taking revenge on high-school bullies and he also is a bit rape obsessed as well. His killings are carried out in an emotional frenzy of tears and acrobatics as he dices people up using blades on his shoes. Kakihara is a yakuza who is into self-mutilation and pain and he's apparently too scary for even other yakuza gangs to handle. Kakihara's boss disappears and his search leads him on the trail of Ichi.

The Film:
With everyone buzzing about Audition, Ichi is sure to get some attention from those seek out underground buzzworthy films and cult classics. The story is based on a manga by Hideo Yamamoto and as such it is sometimes difficult to know what is going on since you are expected to be at least somewhat familiar with the source material first. There is alot of backstory here that we don't get - we also don't get to see the characters fleshed out enough to really care about them. I don't get lost very often watching movies - even movies that most people consider confusing. This one was truly baffling in a few areas and the only thing I can attribute this to is that I have never read the manga.

I'm no stranger to anime - in fact, I'm pretty experienced with it... This is the type of spectacle that Fist of the Northstar was. It seemed to me to be all gore and no brains. This is almost a fanservice movie I think. Fans of the manga will be grinning from ear to ear (like Kakihara). The rest of us will marvel at the gross-out violence and special effects, but never really feel enlightened.

The film did have several chances to be something more than it was, but never bothered to do so. Since the version I saw was cut, it's possible that the full movie contains scenes that I think it should've had in it. I'm assuming it doesn't for the purpose of this review. I suppose if I'm so curious, I could go pick up the manga. Maybe the manga doesn't even explain it. Who knows. I've managed to make sense of the ending, but I still don't think the film bothered to explain itself well enough to those unfamiliar with the subject matter... they only hint at this or that. I guess it'll be a bit easier if you go into the movie thinking it has anime rules rather than having your mind grounded in reality.

The effects were fairly well done... some were laughably bad though. I noticed a few cuts in this version and some of it had to be gore related. I didn't find the movie to be all that disgusting compared to everything I've seen. There are a few scenes of torture and abuse that are kinda discomforting, but the rest of the gore was handled in an over-the-top kind of way and came of kinda silly. There are scenes of rape and torture and abuse that nearly everyone should find at least somewhat offensive.

Score: 6.5-7/10

So... was it good? Well, yes and no. I found it entertaining to a certain degree and I guess it was a decent film. The opening credits were the coolest and slickest aspect of this film - had the stuck with it, it would've been pretty cool. Honestly though, I don't see what the big deal is. The really curious will check it out regardless of what I say, but it's really going to appeal most to those who either have a penchant for awful things or those who already are familiar with the comics. The film certainly has its moments.

Overall I think there may be a more disgusting version out there than this one by Universe, but there's enough here to satisfy most people. The DVD is nice, but as everyone knows by now, it is cut. Some people take issue with films that are cut and they won't bother with this release anyway. I liked the movie enough to hang on to, but I don't think I'll buy it again just for the extra scenes. Even with the extra scenes back in the film, I don't see how it can deliver for the spectacle fans - because without the gore, it's just another boring yakuza movie with cliche characters and cliche plot for the most part. Sure, there's more to it than that - but I found myself drifting off alot because yakuza movies and triad movies bore me. Anyway - I've said enough about Ichi... I'd suggest renting it - those that seek this kind of movie out will buy it anyway, the rest of you should wait until it's released here in the US and rent it.

The Eye

Director: Pang Brothers

DVD: Panorama (new company?)
Region 0 NTSC
Audio: DD and DTS Cantonese
Subtitle: Removable English Subtitles
Video: Letterbox

The Story:

A blind woman has her eyes surgically replaced in the hopes that she will once again see. Her world starts out very blurry, but she can make out shapes - many of them are very odd and only she can see them. Her vision slowly starts to clear up and focus and she discovers what these visions actually are. If I say any more I'll be giving away too much.

The Film:

It was pretty well made technically. The cinematography was good and so was the acting. There were a number of special effects in this and they were all handled very well. I was impressed with quite a few moments in this film. Once scene shows bodies that have been burned alive and it looked pretty much like it does in real life (don't ask how I know). I also felt the story unfolded very nice and it was a very compelling film that commanded my attention the whole time.

Hong Kong horror has been distinctly unique in that it's all been pretty hoaky and silly and never scary or else it's about brutal violence and torture. Recently Hong Kong has been releasing films that have started to change all that and they are making horror movies that are intended to scare rather than cause laughter or vomiting. Visible Secret, Inner Senses and now The Eye are all part of this new trend of horror movies. Their purpose is to scare you. The Eye certainly delivers on that promise.

When a movie raises the hairs on my neck, I think it's doing its job. There were quite a few moments in this film that creeped me out. I don't get creeped out that easily either. If you like scary movies, then you should check this movie out.

I did have a few problems with the movie. Some of them will be a spoiler if I tell you what they are, but I guess most of my problems are minor. Mostly plot related, but there were a few scenes that just didn't work right. Some of the scares come at you like a Hollywood slasher does it - loud noise and music all of a sudden after a period of quiet. Jump-scares aren't as impressive as something that is truly terrifying.

Anyway - the DVD is decent. I hadn't heard of Panorama before, but they seem to have done a decent job here. The print looked clean, but it looked like they had transferred it from a VHS master. I was watching it on a 61" TV, so it was easier to spot. If you have a smaller TV than that, you won't hardly notice. The sound was fantastic. I love DTS tracks. There's not much else I can say about it.

Score: 7.5-8/10

I can recommend this film to anyone who likes scary movies. It's a good solid film.
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Old 07-13-02, 10:42 AM
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Well, I read on www.asiandvdguide.com that the version you saw is cut by a whopping 12-15(!) minutes, so it's fair to assume that there will be tons more gore (although probably not much more plot) in the uncut version. Fingers crossed it one day gets released in subtitled form.
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Old 07-13-02, 10:47 AM
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OK, found the thread. Read this page if you want to know what's missing:

http://pub5.ezboard.com/fhongkongdvd...art=21&stop=40
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Old 07-13-02, 10:50 AM
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Trigger, did you notice that Ichi only ran 111 minutes to the end of the credits??? After seen this, I am now intrigued to see the uncut version.

See my comments for Ichi here.

Nice review on The Eye
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Old 07-13-02, 03:03 PM
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Yeah - I read the list of cuts and for me it's not worth picking up again... I've heard from a few people that the cut version is a little tighter and like the guy said in that link - it's more entertaining. The cut version is plenty gross as it is - the cuts are noticeable, but not too bad. I'd say if you want to see it, pick up this cheap version.
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Old 07-13-02, 09:29 PM
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I saw the uncut version, and my score is about the same 6 or 7 out of 10. However, I didn't find any of it offensive - just absurd in its comic violence. It is well-directed though. And I actually disagree with the plot being cliche - what other film features a
Spoiler:
Tekken player becoming a master killer just because he plays video games non-stop?!?!??!
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Old 07-14-02, 12:26 AM
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Well - Ichi is what made it unique - much of it is all fairly standard yakuza movie stuff aside from all the bizarre stuff.
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Old 07-21-02, 01:46 AM
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I saw a screening of the uncut Ichi and I thought it was a lot of fun, the violence was obviously meant to be over the top and sometimes cartoonish. I loved the ending. On the whole, though, I don't know how often I'd be able to sit down and watch it.
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Old 07-21-02, 09:51 PM
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Thanks for the review, Trigger. I caught the uncut version of this last February at the Walter Reade Theater in NYC and loved it. Here's hoping for an uncut release on DVD in the near future (Criterion would be a good label to distribute some Miike); I've been disappointed by several Asian releases that were disembowled of their most powerful/controversial segments (notably The Piano Teacher and The Idiots). I'm going to hold out for an unedited release on this one...

Here's another review of Ichi The Killer that I liked:
http://www.moviemartyr.com/2002/ichithekiller.htm

Brent
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Old 02-14-03, 09:20 PM
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ok - I lied... I went and purchased the Dutch 2-disc Ichi - uncut. Why? I don't know. I should've re-read my review before buying it. I watched it tonight. I forgot what I thought I had "figured out" and the ending left me confused. If someone wants to explain it to me, that would be great.

Spoiler:
so - what the hell happened? His forhead wasn't cut at the end, but it was clearly cut before he fell. :/ I mean, I think I figured that he just pretended that Ichi did him in and committed suicide, but that didn't seem to totally fit. Did the guy with the muscles under the overcoat hypnotize him? Did he have special powers? What about the girl who spoke english? Was she under his spell? Was she really raped? What was she trying to accomplish before she died? What's with Ichi? Did he just lie there getting his ass kicked by that kid? So many questions...


As for the Dutch 2-disc... it's excellent. Pick it up if you like the film. It's been too long, but I only noticed one scene that wasn't in the movie the first time I saw it - so I don't know how there could be 10 minutes or so cut from the Universe disc.
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Old 02-15-03, 08:09 PM
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Trigger,

Read this thread, especially the post by "johnwookeef" near the bottom:

http://pub5.ezboard.com/fhongkongdvd...cID=4705.topic
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