Blade Of The Immortal
151 minutes (18)
As a filmmaker, Takashi Miike is a man of many talents. Over the course of his 100 films to date, he’s covered everything from straightforward family drama through to violent, psychosexual action and horror.
He’s gained arguably the most attention from Western audiences for the latter though, with movies like Ichi The Killer and Audition both earning a cult following in the years since their release. Those films have remained exactly that, though – cult – thanks to their undeniably niche subject matter and bloody, stylistic, violence.
There’s no doubting Miike can handle blood and gore effectively, there’s just always been a sense that he’s shied away from anything approaching convention at the same time. His 2010 Samurai effort, the remake 13 Assassins, was slightly closer to the mark but it’s with his 100th film, Blade of The Immortal, that Miike may have delivered his most straightforward movie to date.
Based on the popular manga series of the same name, this is a samurai movie by way of more traditional superhero movies like Logan, excepted bigger, bloodier and way more fun.
The film centres around Manji (Takuya Kimura) a samurai given the gift of immortality by a mysterious witch-like figure after taking down close to 50 men singlehandedly (a great sequence shot in black and white) after their leader slays his young sister.
While living out a solitary existence in a Japanese forest, he encounters a young girl, Rin Asano (Hana Sugisaki) whose parents have been killed by a group of sadistic master swordsmen. Together they set out on a mission to avenge their deaths with predictably violent results.
Though it’s a tried and tested story, Blade of the Immortal is bloody and brilliantly fun, with Miike’s eye for delivering gore by the bucketload alongside striking visuals and well choreographed sword battles enough to forgive any other imperfections.
This isn’t so much a samurai film either as a comic book manga-adaptation, full of big characters and even bigger set pieces. In this sense, it puts most mainstream Hollywood action movies to shame, with an unflinching dedication to delivering fight after fight, each more inventive than the last.
Put it this way: if you liked Kill Bill’s bloody dojo battle sequence, then this film is like Kill Bill cranked up to 11, with the Blade Of The Immortal’s various characters embroiled in the kind of inventive and exhilarating action that’s been sadly lacking in Hollywood of late.
With a cast that plays it serious throughout, the film and the origins of Manju are undoubtedly similar to Hugh Jackman’s recent Logan effort. But while that film was a bleak, gritty, final goodbye to the X-Men character, this feels fun, thrilling and hopefully the start of an entirely new franchise.
Head over to the official Blade Of The Immortal website for more info and where to book tickets.