25 July 2002 (Netherlands) more view trailer
Action / Comedy / Crime / Drama / Horror / Thriller more
Ai wa, kanari itai. (Love really hurts.) more
The film stars Tadanobu Asano as Kakihara, a sadomasochist yakuza enforcer who enjoys giving and receiving pain in about equal measures. Kakihara's boss Anjo is murdered in a particularly gruesome fashion, and a mysterious group arrives to clean up all evidence of the murder, and they steal 300 million yen Anjo had in his room.
Many of Kakihara's compatriots, including Anjo's English- and Japanese-speaking girlfriend Karen (Alien Sun), suspect that Anjo simply took the money and ran, but Kakihara is convinced the man is alive. His investigation leads him to brutally torture a member of a rival clan, Suzuki (Susumu Terajima), by suspending him from a ceiling with metal hooks through the man's back, shoving stilettos through his body, and pouring boiling grease (from a meal of tempura) on him. In an example of the film's extremely black humor, when asked what he is doing, Kakihara responds nonchalantly, "Just a little torture."
The man turns out to be innocent. To make restitution, Kakihara slices off part of his tongue and offers it to Suzuki's boss (Jun Kunimura). However, the man who tipped Kakihara off to Suzuki and may have more real information, a disheveled old man nicknamed Jijii (Shinya Tsukamoto), is nowhere to be found.
Jijii is, as it turns out, secretly orchestrating events. Under his wing is a young man, Ichi (Nao Omori), a confused and apparently psychotic individual who is normally unassuming and cowardly, but becomes homicidal when enraged (and who has crying fits when committing his murders). Ichi outfits himself in a rubber stuntman suit with shoes that have razors concealed in the heels, and after spying on a pimp brutalizing a prostitute kills first the pimp, then the girl. Jijii has so manipulated Ichi as to confuse sexual arousal with homicidal lust in him, and accomplished this by creating a false memory in him of witnessing a rape in high school -- which he felt ashamed for wanting to participate in rather than stop.
Kakihara is eventually thrown out of the syndicate for his transgressions, but not before catching word of Ichi. He becomes fascinated with this "total sadist," since perhaps through him he can finally find the ultimate pain he has been seeking -- one which neither his girlfriend nor his boss could give him. In a related plot development, Jijii attempts to get better control over Ichi by having Karen seduce him, but the plan backfires horribly and Karen is slaughtered.
Kakihara, along with two corrupt police-detective twin brothers, find Myu-Myu, a prostitute connected with Jijii's gang. In one of the film's more disturbing scenes, they torture her for information (primarily by cutting her nipples off). They find one of Jijii's henchmen and torture him to find out where Ichi is. However, at this point, Ichi shows up at Kakihara's compound. He kills Kaneko in front of his son Takeshi, who then goes and kicks Ichi while he is lying on the floor crying. Kakihara soon realizes Ichi won't hurt him, so he inserts two pins into both his ears, to the extent where he is deaf in a suicide attempt. He then looks up as the camera pans to Ichi, standing up in tears holding the top half of Takeshi's head in his hand, with the child's corpse lying next to where he stands. He charges at Kakihara and, following a small fight, embeds one of his razor-bladed boots in the center of Kakihara's head. Kakihara stumbles back, claiming it is the greatest feeling ever and falls off the rooftop to his death. Kakihara is found on the compound floor by Jijii, dead but apparently unwounded by Ichi's final attack, revealing that Kakihara was hallucinating the attack (most likely due to sticking the pins into his ears too far and poking his brain), and thus committed suicide.
Gangster / Wicked / Blonde Asian / Pervert / Bisexual more
6 wins & 1 nomination more
You can rip someone's arm off with your bare hands!