Home » Blu-Ray Review: Ichi the Killer is a Stunning Restoration of One of Takashi Miike’s Best

Blu-Ray Review: Ichi the Killer is a Stunning Restoration of One of Takashi Miike’s Best

Ichi the Killer

Ichi the Killer is one of the most influential movies of the early 2000s. It is absolutely one of the standout films from director Takashi Miike, which says a lot, because he’s directed over 100 of them. There’s something about Ichi that is still powerful, though, still relevant. I first saw this in a Japanese film course my freshman year of college and instantly fell in love with both it and its director, who I’d heard of before. It’s even more interesting to watch Ichi now after so many other films have clearly been influenced by it.

It’s one of dozens of movies Miike has made about the Yakuza, so it’s worth it to think about what made this one resonate in particular. Why has Ichi resonated worldwide in a way that some of his other movies dealing with the same subject matter haven’t? Which is not a slight against those films, either, as some of them are incredibly underrated, including the recent Yakuza Apocalypse. There’s something about the extremity of the images coupled with artistry of it that makes Ichi so appealing. It’s Miike at his most Argento and that’s not a bad thing because he goes much further than even Argento ever would.


Ichi the Killer, at first glance, is like taking the premise of The Dark Knight and giving it to Miike instead of Nolan. On the surface, they’re almost the same movie. A sadistic, relentless monster with a carved mouth loses his mind over a costumed vigilante who keeps screwing up his plans. And Ichi feels like a comic book, through and through. That’s not coincidence, of course, as it is adapted from a manga by Hideo Yamamoto—but the manga was gritty and black & white, whereas this feels like a full-blown four-color comic book world.

That’s especially apparent in the new transfer, which is stunning. Well Go outdid themselves, as Ichi has never looked better. Everything pops in this new transfer, especially the colors. The special features aren’t altogether lacking—there is a commentary with both Miike and Yamamoto, which is fantastic.

Ichi the KillerI wish more commentaries would include both the filmmaker and the author of the source material, as it presents a great discussion and a totally unique take. Other than that, though, we’ve only got a still gallery and a trailer. For a definitive edition, it actually doesn’t offer that much in the way of special features. The only real issue there is that it would have been so easy just to port over special features from previous releases, especially the 2003 Blood Pack DVD, which is still one of the best DVD releases of all time.

Even still, Ichi is worth the purchase for the restoration, which is gorgeous. The film itself is, at times, incredibly hard to watch—very few Miike films are safe for the squeamish, after all—but that juxtaposition of beautiful shots of absolutely grotesque is exactly what makes Takashi Miike such a prominent filmmaker in the first place.

Ichi the Killer drops March 20th from Well Go USA Entertainment.


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Written by Nat Brehmer
In addition to contributing to Wicked Horror, Nathaniel Brehmer has also written for Horror Bid, HorrorDomain, Dread Central, Bloody Disgusting, We Got This Covered, and more. He has also had fiction published in Sanitarium Magazine, Hello Horror, Bloodbond and more. He currently lives in Florida with his wife and his black cat, Poe.
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