To elaborate: There's two movies in "Ichi the Killer." One is a sly subversion of superhero myths -- particularly "Batman." We're always told that Batman/Bruce Wayne is kind of a freak, but really: If you were a billionaire industrialist, wouldn't you be tempted to become a city's crime-fighting savior with really cool cars and utility belts? But our "hero" in this movie, Ichi, really is twisted and broken. The villain, Kakihara is reminiscent of the Joker with his facial scars, but takes his penchant for chaos-born-of-ennui to depth that Christopher Nolan and Heath Ledger wouldn't have been able to contemplate for a mainstream American movie. And there's a third, very important character: the henchman. For him, the story isn't an exciting villain-versus-hero duel -- it's a tragedy. The subversion extends all the way to the movie's confrontation between Ichi and Kakihara.
Unfortunately, that movie is buried beneath another one so filled with torture-porn style violence and misogyny that I can't possibly recommend it.
I want to like "Ichi the Killer." But despite its merits, it feels harmful.