Minagoroshi no Reika (I, the Executioner). 1968. Japan. Directed by Tai Kato. Screenplay by Haruhiko Miura. With Makoto Sato, Chieko Baisho, Ranfan Oh. 35mm. In Japnese; English subtitles. 90 min.
Brutal in its depiction of sexual and physical violence towards women, I, the Executioner is, as Tony Rayns writes, “up there with Oshima's Violence at Noon and Imamura's Vengeance Is Mine as one of Japan's most disturbing anatomies of a serial killer.” Tai Kato, best known for his yakuza and period films, pulls out all the stops in this visually arresting, nihilistic modern-day tale of a man on a brutal murder and rape spree, using extreme close-ups and unusually low-angle shots to make his rage viscerally palpable. Whether Kato’s spin on the serial killer genre condemns or merely perpetuates an all-too common trope—men’s fear and hatred of women—is left to the audience. 35mm print from Japan Foundation, New York; courtesy Shochiku