Sometimes I think that Japanese culture, at least in film, has almost no real, or imagined, sense of transgression, since almost everything is visually permitted. Still, that said, this film is as engrossing as _Reservoir Dogs_ or _Goodfellas_. It is interesting the way films like this of near immeasurable violence and cruelty intermix enough spirituality and narrative novelty as to make them endurable. Like the way Scorsese's heterodox Catholicism weaves itself into his crime films. As in much of this kind of crime noir, there is no traditional "good guy," or at least morally neutral, as everyone depicted within _Ichi_ is a soldier for the yakuza, a prostitute, or, Ichi himself, a manipulated sociopath. Kakihara is one of the screen's most diabolical and unique villains. He is essentially a profound masochist, and the ruthless torture he inflicts is made worse in that you can see he identifies with who he is torturing. The entire film centers on his near-spiritual quest for the ultimate sadistic experience --- hence why he seeks out the psychotic Ichi. Without giving away the ending, I will say that I am enjoying Miike's films more and more, and the way the finale dissolves desire and reality at a moment, reminds me very much of David Lynch. The representations of violence are varied from painfully realistic to the smilingly ridiculous. Excellent film on crime and its nihilism: "who's left to kill me?" Kakihara disappointingly adds at the end of the film.