1-Ichi (2003)

DVD Cover (Tokyo Shock)
Genres: Crime, Crime Thriller
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Masato Tanno Masato Tanno
Nao Ohmori Nao Ohmori
Teah Teah
Chihara Junia Chihara Junia
Chisato Amate Chisato Amate
Yuki Oikawa Yuki Oikawa
Movie Connections:
Ichi The Killer
> Ichi The Killer (2001)
> 1-Ichi (2003)

6.1 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: August 02, 2005
In this prequel to Takashi Miike's Ichi The Killer (which really needs an updated review as of this writing), we find that the movie centers around, who else, Shiroishi... better known as Ichi (Nao Omori). There's really not a whole lot in the way of storyline here, due to the fact that director Masato Tanno decided to make a very simple movie, and boy did he ever manage that. Our storyline first focuses on Dai (Teah), the schoolyard bully who is quite the bad ass. We see him beat the living hell out of two guys, and we soon learn that his idea of a fun afternoon involves fighting bullies and tough guys from the neighboring schools. Ichi, for those of you who haven't seen Miike's film, is a mild-mannered, geeky sort of guy who happens to get off on watching violence... I mean, he literally gets off on it. Dai notices that Ichi is turning up at each of his fights, and he believes that Ichi is laughing at his fighting skills. This leads to him wanting to kill Ichi at first, but soon, a sort of respect for him grows inside of Dai. Before this storyline can continue, however, a transfer student shows up at Dai's school. Onizame (Kji Chihara) is his name, and he too is a bad ass who enjoys inflicting pain on fellow students. Onizame soon breaks the arm of one of Dai's friends and rapes his girlfriend, so Dai wants a bit of revenge for this... however, the anger in Ichi is slowly building due to the bullying tactics of other students, and soon, we find out how he got the "Killer" part of his name.

I'm normally not much of a fan of prequel-sequels, especially when the person responsible for the second film is not the same person who did the original. When one person decides to flesh out the background of a character made famous by another, the results are usually disastrous. However, this is not the case with Ichi-1. Tanno was extremely faithful to Miike's vision of Ichi, and he really did an excellent job at giving us some insight on how Ichi became who he is. This is all told in a movie that, while a bit slow in the beginning, really delivers on the goods by the time the credits start to roll. Sure, it's not as good as "Ichi The Killer", and it's nowhere near as violent or gruesome... but fans of Miike's movie will almost certainly enjoy Tanno's continuation / background of the storyline.

Now, although I did say that this movie was not as gruesome as Ichi The Killer (and really, there's not a whole lot that is), that doesn't mean that they slacked in the gore department. Quite the contrary; we see a very nasty, very bloody fist-fight in the opening scene, we see some bone-breaking that is guaranteed to make you wince, and in the final scene... well, the final scene is by far the bloodiest of the movie. There's also some really neat camera effects in the first few scenes, such as freeze-frames and distorted color schemes. These effects really emphasized whatever point the director was trying to make in the given scene, but sadly, these great effects disappeared as the movie progressed. Tanno has a good eye for what looks good and what sort of shot will add value to the scene at hand, but it would have been nice if he had continued using these in the later scenes of the movie.

There's really not a whole lot more that can be said about this movie. It's very simple in the storyline department, but this simplicity adds to the viewing experience for fans of the original; we already know a lot about the character, so simply seeing what he does best and giving us a bit of back-story on him works out wonderfully here. The only thing I have left to say about this movie is a recommendation - if you decide to give this movie a viewing, watch "Ichi The Killer" first. The ending of this movie will be a bit anti-climatic for those who haven't seen the original, but it ties in so beautifully with Miike's movie that it works out perfectly. I enjoyed this one, and I believe that most fans of Ichi will as well. 8/10.
Edd #1: Edd - added 08/02/2005, 11:35 AM
Holy shit.
I never even knew this movie existed.
It's on my Netflix que now.
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