Koroshiya 1 (2001, JAP/HGK/KOR) C-112m. ** D: Takashi Miike. Starring Tadanobu Asano, Nao Omori, Shinya Tsukamoto, Alien Sun (=Paulyn Sun), Susumu Terajima, Jun Kunimura, Sabu (=Hiroyuki Tanaka). Perhaps director Miike's most infamous film is a grotesque action horror film about a yakuza group whose boss vanishes one day. Scar-faced deputy Asano employs unusual, ultra-violent methods to find out where he went (with yakuza money). We, the audience, know that responsible for the disappearance is Ichi, a kind-of nerdish, neurotic superhero with an insatiable bloodlust. Meant to be satirical, with over-the-top digital and traditional special effects, but this sado-masochistic fantasy comes across as cynical and doesn't really have a point, let alone entertainment value (unless you are a gorehound). Uncut print is even more violent and runs 129m. English title: ICHI, THE KILLER. Followed by a video prequel in 2003.

© Ron Altman