Ichi the Killer (Koroshiya 1)

Critics Consensus

Ichi The Killer is a thoroughly shocking gorefest that will surely entertain those with strong stomachs and a penchant for brutal violence.



Total Count: 39


Audience Score

User Ratings: 49,741
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Movie Info

Maverick auteur Takashi Miike spins this unsettling, blood-soaked yakuza yarn adapted from Hideo Yamamoto's cult manga Koroshiya 1. When mob don Anjo mysteriously disappears, his protégé Kakihara (Tadanobu Asano) vows to find the people responsible. Sporting a blond head of hair and a yawning, pierced slash for a mouth, Kakihara is no ordinary gangster and his methods are equally unorthodox; he impales one poor suspect's naked body on a series of meat hooks and then dumps hot oil on him. Meanwhile, a shadowy character known as Jijii (played by director Shinya Tsukamoto) deftly manipulates, for his own nefarious ends, Ichi (Nao Omori), an unbalanced but ruthless killing machine clad in a superhero suit. Pining for the sadistic abuse of his boss, Kakihara learns of Ichi from a Hong Kong hostess (Alien Sun) and sets out to find this fabled butcher, hoping he can inflict the pain that Kakihara craves. This film was screened at the 2001 Toronto Film Festival as a part of the Midnight Madness program.

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Critic Reviews for Ichi the Killer (Koroshiya 1)

All Critics (39) | Top Critics (12)

  • Miike layers a blood-stained commentary on a toxic world in which men offer protection to men but really end up dooming them to exist within a spasmodic, shambolic, and hypermasculine sphere of violence.

    Nov 9, 2017 | Full Review…
  • Even hardy gonzo-cinema auds will likely find the hectic pace overstimulating to the point of numbed-out tedium.

    Aug 8, 2008

    Dennis Harvey

    Top Critic
  • The torture is strictly for kicks, which spoiled this for me, but less skittish viewers may enjoy this as a stylish and tightly wound genre piece.

    May 3, 2007 | Full Review…
  • Funny, absurd, nightmarishly visceral and -- of course -- deeply serious.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Any serious message has been sacrificed on the altar of excess, making us realize why the stylish story probably worked better as a graphic comic book than as a film.

    Oct 23, 2003 | Rating: 2/4
  • It's the kind of deeply horrible and bizarre movie that really can only be viewed from between your fingers, or behind the sofa, for most of its two-hours-plus running time.

    Jul 8, 2003 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Ichi the Killer (Koroshiya 1)

  • Feb 20, 2014
    Raw, gritty and intense, Ichi The Killer is a film that will surely make you uncomfortable from the moment the film starts. This is an intense film, one that you cannot tear yourself away from, in other words this is the type of film that dares you not to look away. With a blend of horror and crime film elements, this film is an intense viewing experience that you won't forget anytime soon. The cast do a fine job in their roles and if you're looking for a truly disturbing film, Ichi The Killer is such a film to watch. Overall, this is a decent film, one that is designed to shock its audience in the most extreme way, and it works. However in terms of story, the film is a little light, and doesn't really have any depth. This is a film that relies more on its shock value to capture your imagination. For genre fans that enjoy the Torture Porn genre, you may enjoy this, but to others, this is a hard film to watch, one that is graphic and intense from the first shot right up to the climax. This is one of the most extreme films that I've seen in the horror genre, and it is a movie that is decent for what it is, but it never is anything great. Ichi The Killer is one of those movies that is only worth seeing once because of its content. The film may be a decent affair, but it does succeed very well in unnerving you. If the story would have been better, this would have made for a standout feature with some truly graphic torture scenes. However, it's only a so-so affair that leaves a lot of ideas left to be explored. Those with weak stomachs may want to pass this one up, but to the hardcore horror hound, this is a must see, even if it leaves a bit to be desired in terms of story.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Jan 28, 2014
    Ichi the Killer is a live adaptation of the seinen manga (a subset of manga that is generally targeted at a 15-24 year old male audience) which I haven't read. This film (like the cannibal genre) came to my attention through extensive reading on controversial films. Capturing my attention for being known to be heavily edited in several countries because of its depiction of violence. The controversy warrant towards "Ichi the Killer" is debatable given the whole film is comically over the top, but is an interesting odd film even if it is a mess. Ichi the Killer is about sadomasochistic yakuza enforcer Kakihara searching for his missing boss when he comes across Ichi, a repressed and psychotic killer who may be able to inflict levels of pain that Kakihara has only dreamed of. The general idea plot is easy to track, but the pieces in between are told awkwardly. Pacing is not this film best friend simultaneously providing long scenes that move the plot and poorly establishes a large cast of characters and their background. While the main character of Kakihara and Ichi have a bizarrely interesting personality secondary characters leave plenty to be desire when the only two interesting character aren't on screen. With the exception of one secondary characters bridging the plot most of them present something and then disappear leaving viewer interpretation to fill the blank. Given the nature of the film to be comical the acts of the yakuza and the anti-hero might not end up being a laughing matter to some. Instead of playing things for laugh in self awareness it play things over the top. One of those of moments being the anti-hero killing a rapist, leading to a misunderstanding in which he tells the woman he just saved to beat her up instead of her husband, and ending in a bloody result. Dark comedy is tricky to pull off and in this there are situations in which a dark moment can easily be mistaken for crucial drama. Where it suffers most is the climax which overstays its welcome. While narratively interesting it's not strong enough to support itself making the final stretch of the film hard to sit through. Here's a story whose tone, humor, and commentary no less provide a series of good and bad feelings that makes the journey interesting to see unfold. Takashi Miike direction is comparable to Oliver Stone's "Natural Born Killers". The beginning of "Ichi the Killer" employs a lot of extended cinematographic techniques in rapid succession ala Oliver Stone--different film speeds, stocks, tinting and processing methods, and so on. While these are interesting, Miike forgets about them quickly as he works his way into the story. They pop up occasionally later in the film, as do a couple shots in the vein of Dario Argento, such as a tracking shot through someone's ear. Both also aimed to view violence in a sophisticated way; however, whereas "Natural Born Killers" intentions were clear in its discussion of glamorize and commercialism of violence "Ichi the Killer" is the confused little brother unsure on how make his statement. Miike establishes scenes with stoic emotions. For example, in the beginning of the film Ichi sees a woman getting rape and does nothing about it. Similar scenes are done throughout the film that demand the viewer to input their interpretation of the scene. Interpretations and reaction will differ, but the substance to work on by itself is not evident. Asking the audience to fill in too much giving the film an artificial feel to it. Not everything feels like it belongs for every gory scene there will an out of nowhere comedy that challenges what the last scene was attempting to do. Style and narrative is cohesive, but not so much the director intention. Grabbing you when it attempts to say something, but gives up half way through on saying anything at all. Making the film aim inconsistent in whether or not its wants a position in its own purpose. Tadanobu Asano is brilliant as Kakihara. His performance is charismatic and terrifying, he does a great job of making the role his own. Nao Omori plays Ichi perfectly. Tormented, childish, and merciless all in one scene is a sight to watch. Balancing comedy and drama transitioning smoothly in between tone despite the script failing to do the same. Alien Sun is is good in the way she speaks more than one language in an almost random fashion adding further mystery to this film. Shinya Tsukamoto is also very good as Jijii. His character is unravelled throughout the film and Tsukamoto is very convincing in his portrayal of what turns out to be a very complex character. Gore hounds will be impressed with the practical effects with the gore. There's a scene early in the film in which Kakihara cuts off his tongue in one shot and another scene when a criminal is hanging on fish hooks while being tortured. Sadly most of the gore appears spontaneously exiting the film quickly, though when there is gore it never fails to deliver a memorable moment. Ichi the Killer is bizarre, interesting, contains spontaneous gore, and a mess of a film that's hard to look away from. There's so many things wrong about enjoying a dark comedy in which people's death are played for laughs in a stoic direction. Yet there's hardly many films like it taking an wholly unique to its material that makes it standout. One thing is for certain while the director emotions aren't clear yours will be on a film that's rarely like many other.
    Caesar M Super Reviewer
  • Nov 28, 2013
    One of the most disturbing films I've seen in a long time. The only problem with the film s that the titular character is unlikable unlike Kakihara who is the antagonist yet he was perfectly memorable. Nao Omori sucks to say the least. It's bloody, it's violent and it's misogynist. You can't help but crack up at some of the gleeful violence. The costumes were perfectly gang member like, the set of the Japanese city was great. However, I was critical about the writing, depsite knowing that it's meant to be far fetched schlocky fun yet the dialogues and some of the actions were not good enough to be of any artistic value.
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • Mar 17, 2012
    The novelty of its extreme violence and bizarre characters wears off at 80-90 minutes and that where it should have ended. 2 hours is just too long for a film like this, just like everything in this film, just dragged on for that minute extra
    Hassan V Super Reviewer

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