Plot Summary: Ichi the Killer


Ichi the Killer begins with the murder of Anjo, a yakuza crime boss. After the murder, a cleaning crew, headed by Jiji (Shinya Tsukamoto), removes all traces of gore and restores the apartment to its original condition. With no sign of Anjo or his body, the other crime lords assume Anjo stole 3 million yen and fled. Kakihara, Anjo’s sadomasochistic right hand man, believes Anjo has been kidnapped. Jiji encourages these rumors and suggests that Suzuki (Susumu Terajima) was the one who kidnapped Anjo. Kakihara then captures and brutally tortures Suzuki for information. Upon learning of Suzuki’s innocence, Kakihara cuts off a chunk of his own tongue and offers it to Suzuki’s boss, the leader of the rival clan.

Kakihara prepares to cut off his tongue

Along with Anjo, Ichi also kills a pimp who savagely beats a prostitute named Sailor. He later kills Sailor when she attacks him out of fear.

While Ichi goes on a killing rampage, Kakihara is kicked out of Anjo’s gang for his sadomasochistic tendencies. Much to Jiji’s dismay, the rest of the gang leaves with Kakihara. Kakihara, after learning that Ichi killed Anjo, becomes obsessed with Ichi, hoping he has finally found his sadistic match.

We learn that Jiji has been covertly setting the opposing clans against one another. Jiji uses Ichi, who implanted with false memories through hypnosis, becomes hyper-homicidal and aroused when angry. Jiji controls Ichi by constantly reminding him of the rape he witnessed in high school. The memory, although false, triggers Ichi’s rage toward his own cowardice.

Ichi during a rampage

Jiji has Karen, a prostitiute and friend of Anjo and Kakihara, lead Ichi to believe that she was the school girl of his memory. Ichi then kills Karen.

After a long chase scene, Kakihara, Kaneko (a corrupt police officer working for the yakuza) and Ichi find themselves on a rooftop. Kaneko shoots Ichi, who kills Kaneko in front of Kaneko’s son Takeshi. Kakihara loses his mind and inserts sharp metal skewers into his ears. Ichi attacks Kakihara, who falls off the roof to his death.

Kakihara and Ichi fighting on the rooftop
Kakihara and Ichi fighting on the rooftop

In a flash-forward, we see Jiji hanging from a tree in a city park. A group of schoolchildren walk beneath the swinging body.

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