Posts Tagged ‘Kôji Shiraishi’s Gurotesuku’

Koroshiya Ichi 1 (Ichi The Killer): This isn’t kitschy like normal people who pretend to like abnormal cinema might want you to believe. Even Takashi Miike asking for barf bags to be distributed at the theatre during the film’s release doesn’t make it tacky fodder for erstwhile gorehounds. Based on the original Manga series created by Hideo Yamamoto, (he’s also the cinematographer here) the film spits and cusses out a tale about two killers who respond only to pain, but in very different ways.

On one side, we have Kakihara – Yakuza’s kamikaze rogue and sado-masochist extraordinaire. He’s a practitioner of extreme physical pain, both self-inflicted and on anyone who wrongs him/spills his coffee/call his mother a whore. On the other side, we have Ichi, a man child whose past trauma has imbibed in him such a repulsion towards pain that it drives him to destroy every single fucking thing in the most brutal, unimaginable ways on his path to serenity and quiet masturbation. These two remind me of Batman and Joker in the sense that pain motivates them more than anything else does. Kakihara feeds off it to feel alive while Ichi begrudgingly needs it to live another day; their inclination towards it however is similarly perfunctory. Of course, my minions, there is a showdown and yes, it is gorgeous in a ‘hey, are those black swans with broken necks dancing in a pool of their own blood?’ way.

Actors – Tadanobu Asano, Suzuki Matsuo (the rogue detective) and Susumu Terajima (Funaki gang) – brilliantly play off their nonchalance towards bloodshed. This was almost necessary considering the film’s excessive misogynistic overtones. It could have so easily degenerated into an Asian art-house splatter fest, but the actors put on such a good show that we expect some of the scenes to be inexplicably more graphic than they actually are. Matsuo is especially great and sometimes scarier than the other two. He doesn’t treat violence as a luxury or deviancy, but as chore and that makes him more dangerous because he never has an off day. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Nao Omori as Ichi though. He could have easily slipped into a less menacing suit and walked right into a buddy comedy with Jet Li. The rest blends in nicely with the overall decadence, be it through sound, sight or a tiny scream. The most memorable gore sequence was the one with the badass yakitori skewers and a pissed-off Kakihara. Poor Mr. Suzuki. Poor poor fellow.

From the deliriously intoxicating music that Karera Musication and Boredoms whip up in the shape of unearthly jazz and muddy psychedelia to the Yamamoto’s hideously chic visuals, Takashi Miike has given us plenty to chew on here. If Ôdishon (Audition) was his most stylish and visceral work as an artist and Visitor Q his most outrageously vivid, Koroshiya Ichi 1 falls somewhere in-between, gazing at our innermost perversions with lovingly bloodied eyes. Somewhere in there, love lurks amongst the shadows like that bald dude playing Satan in Passion Of Christ. You won’t feel it unless you look past the obvious. You can’t deny it because the type of porn you have downloaded over the years has a different story to say.

I am kidding. I’m sure you’re respectably normal…but that transsexual midget porn sure is a kick in the head, eh?

Gurotesuku (Grotesque): Kôji Shiraishi’s Gurotesuku is sort of like a nasty accident on the highway. You don’t want to look, but you do anyway. You tell the person sitting next to you, “oh man I wish everyone’s ok” but your sick mind is secretly wondering “Is that a piece of brain? Please tell me it’s a piece of brain. Oh how I wish that was a piece of brain”.

I wrote a paragraph on how grotesquely pointless this film was before realizing that maybe it wasn’t. Maybe it was the ultimate ‘fuck you’ to stylized Asian slasher films. The strike of vengeance by an underground director who’s frankly sick of all the pansy-excuses for gore that his emotionally crippled peers have put out over the past decade. I can picture Kôji Shiraishi downing his eleventh shot of Saki, wiping the spittle from his pornographic moustache and preaching to his choir of obese geishas and Yoshihiro Nishimura’s illegitimate children, “blutality for blutality’s sake, there isn’t any other way, my childlen”.

Of course, the truth could so easily be that Shiraishi was in fact secretly and simultaneously fathered and mothered by Jerry Springer and Ilsa – the evil Nazi warden. We’ll never know, I guess. One thing I do know is that the film has one of the nastiest and most predictable twists I’ve seen. It’s just wrong on two or three levels at least. Thankfully, the all-round shitty acting pushes it into a surrealist territory where the bad is good and the horrible can be terribly entertaining. It’s also cute that Hiroaki Kawatsure and Shigeo Ôsako try their bestest in the whole wide world to go beyond the clichés and allure us in with method shrieking/wailing/pleading, but it works as well as the dumbasses standing near the literature sections at our local bookstores with misleading ‘I Can Help You’ badges. Ôsako’s final speech to her captor is comical to the point that it comes across as being weirdly existentialistic. I half expected Peter Sellers to drift along and whack her in the head with a hardbound copy of Jerzy Kosinski’s Being There.

Kawatsure is convincing as the sadistic killer, but then again, very few people aren’t. No, really. Pick anyone you know. I bet most of them would fit the profile of a deranged sociopath. We’re all pretty fucked up when nobody’s looking anyway.


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The more nihilistic a horror film is, the closer I feel to God. With every brutal kill sequence that flashes across the screen, I drown myself in the unconditional warmth of your saviour’s bosom. Being South Indian by birth, Roman Catholic in theory and having existed in fairly normal social structures, I’m naturally drawn towards splatter films. They represent my anarchic fantasies of what my alter ego perceives to be just and logically pervasive.

Watching a seriously gory film is like sitting through a therapy session with a psychotic shrink. You go to him, thinking that emotional resonance cures pain faster than time can. You settle on his couch as he nudges the horn-rimmed spectacles, and encourages you to vent out your frustrations. Your eyes brighten up, thinking “fuck me, someone finally wants to listen” and you start incessantly telling him how daddy never hugged you enough or how your uncle hugged you way too much and quite frankly, too nakedly.

And then BANG! The doc whips out a syringe lightning fast-like and stabs you in the throat.

A few hours later you wake up to find yourself, gagged and hogtied to a rusty chair. Standing threateningly in front of you with 14-inch blade , the doctor gingerly puts on his surgeon’s mask, mouthing “motherfucker, you think you know pain, I’ll show you pa…” as his lips quiver and disappear beneath the dirty white cloth.

Ok maybe not exactly like this, gore films elucidate about pain in such a mesmerizing way that the painting of it always eclipses the reasoning behind the intent. They tug at my heartstrings more meaningfully than storytelling and film-making ever could. I’m neither a self-respecting film critic nor someone who has necrophilic fantasies about a ménage à trios with Kurosawa and Scorsese. I consider bloodletting to be an art form. An archaic gateway to realizing that the only thing we truly hold sacred is pain. We do cartwheels trying to avoid it. We walk right into it face-first knowing we’re going to fall ass-first because of it. We love it, we hate it…I even know a guy who tried making love to it using toothpaste and a rope . Some directors use it to fashion some spectacular gore and spin fairly interesting stories around it. This is my tribute to these sick fucking puppies of cinema and their coughing up of blood, guts, pus and all the good stuff.

Movies to be reviewed over the next two months include Pascal Laugier’s MartyrsNoboru Iguchi’s The Machine GirlKôji Shiraishi’s GurotesukuAlexandre Aja’s Haute TensionXavier Gens’ Frontier(s)Yûdai Yamaguchi’s Meatball MachineGary Sherman’s Raw MeatGeorge Pavlou’s Rawhead RexJi-woon Kim’s Dalkomhan Insaeng, Michael Muro’s Street TrashTakashi Miike’s Ichi The Killer and more.

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