Ichi 1
aka, 1 ICHI. 2003

Director: Masato Tanno

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Ichi-1 (2003), based on the well-famed manga (comics), is Masato Tanno's prequel to Takeshi Miike's classic of homoerotic blood & guts action classic Ichi the Killer (Koroshiya Ichi, 2001).

As Tanno had been an assistant director to Miike on Ichi the Killer & Dead or Alive (Deddo oa araibu: Hanzaisha, 1999), it's no wonder he can make a kick-ass exploitation film. Ichi 1 is not precisely Miike's style but it's a grand homage to that peculiar brand of absurdist-gruesome violent action. And it makes a very nice "origins" piece for the Ichi seen in Miike's film.

Ichi 1Shiroshi who becomes Ichi is played by Nao Omori, who played him in Miike's film too. He's a highschool nerd. Afro-Japanese boxer Dai (played by one-name Brazillian-Japanese pop idol "Teah") has become obsessive about him & wants to kill him.

Dai is not really certain what it is about a nice soft kid like Shiro that stirs him up, a kid who never meant anyone harm. In fact even little kids bully Shiro.

It soon becomes apparent that Shiro has a crush on Dai or at least gets aroused to see him beat the crap out of other people. Dai's obsession would seem to be a repression of his own sexual confusion.

Fighting does not merely sublimate sex but is itself sadistic sex. Shiro would most definitely like to be in a fight with Dai, despite knowing his own karate is so rudimentary that even gradeschool kids can defeat him.

Shiro is kidnapped by a rival school that has mistaken him for a friend of Dai's. They'll keep injuring him until Dai shows up to save him in a big karate duel. Ah! The "rescued by lover" fantasy!

Ichi 1But before Dai arrives, Shiro bursts into a frantic panic against his tormentors. We don't get to see what happened, & we don't know with absolute cewrtainty it was the seemingly wussy Shiro who left eight toughs unconscioius.

There's another guy wandering about, Onizama (Koji Chihara), a wild card in the story, & his hapkido "arm twisting" style may well make him stronger than Dai. Perhaps he saved Shiro before Dai arrived. Then again, Shiro might have been responsible, having a berserker potential no one suspects, though now Dai is beginning to wonder.

But wild card guy Onizama did see the action & he alone knows Shiro has an inhuman power, for all that he always seems like a sissy. It's something Shiro can't control or use at will, but it's there.

Onizama & Dai fight & at first it's touch & go who's stronger, though Onizama finally gets the better of Dai, & says to him, "You're strong. But you wouldn't have a chance against that Ichi guy," meaning Shiroishi, for the first time renamed.

In Dai & Onizama's second bout, Dai gets his arm good & broken. Instead of finishing him off Onizama suddenly runs off in pursute ot Shiro/Ichi, who had taken off in terror.

Onizama wants to fight Shiro because of his admiration of such strength as he once observed. He wants to fight the strongest in order to prove himself stronger still. He doesn't realize Shiro has no command over the terrible strength that is in him, thus Onizama is confused that "Ichi" cries like a frightened kid.

When Dai even with a broken arm tries to save Shiro, Shiro becomes increasingly aroused watching Dai & Onizama fight. But when Dai is losing badly & about to get his neck broken, Shiroishi's uncontrolable strength rises up & he saves Dai, destroying Onizama, all the while grunting & screaming in terror over his own capacity, though in the end he laughs & ejaculates.

Good music decorates the soundtrack & the closing-credits number by the band Table Music is very nice, finishing off a good film all round.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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