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‘Blade of The Immortal’ (review)

Produced by Jeremy Thomas,
Misako Saka,Shigeji Maeda
Screenplay by Tetsuya Oishi
Based on the manga by Hiroaki Samura
Directed by Takashi Miike
Starring Takuya Kimura, Hana Sugisaki,
Ichikawa Ebizō XI, Erika Toda, Sota Fukushi,
Chiaki Kuriyama, Kazuki Kitamura

The 100th film of Japanese shock and gore master, Blade of the Immortal, is a culmination of the spectacular and varied works of master filmmaker, Takashi Miike.

The film opens with beautiful black and white imagery of the protagonist, Manji, a former samurai of the shogunate who’s self assigned mission is to protect his sister, Machi (Hana Sugisaki), after he killed her husband while serving the Shogun.

Takuya Kimura (Space Battleship Yamato) is perfectly cast as the wandering samurai.

Through treachery and deceit, Machi, is killed by a band of thieves and killers. Manji then lays waste to the hundred men with incredible skill. in the battle, though, he is mortally wounded, only to be “saved” by an ancient nun who gives him mysterious “bloodworms” that heal his wounds no matter how severe, thus making him now immortal.

Dubbed “The Hundered Killer” he is destined to live forever killing and watching anyone he cares about die as he continues living a wretched life. This makes him incredibly bitter.

50 years later, enter Rin, also played by Hana Sugisaki. Rin’s parents have been killed and she seeks revenge against the man responsible. After hearing tale about Manji she finds him in hopes of hiring him and his swords to hep her dispatch the samurai responsible for their murder.

What follows is a gorgeous study of violence and humor that are the hallmarks of what Takashi Miike is best known for. Through the previous 99 films he has directed, Miike has honed and perfected the perfect recipe of gore, flying limbs, kinetic sword fighting and matching frenetic film making that can only be described as stunning.

Based on the Manga series by Hiroaki Samura and published in Japan by Kodansha and in America by Dark Horse Comics. The film basically follows the original plot of the manga but condenses the 30 volume, 19 year run of comics into a brutal and exquisite two hour and twenty minute ballet of violence.

I would definitely say that having read the manga series helped in my following the slightly convoluted story. If I have to say the one thing that hamstrung the film was having to condense the story. Characters that should have had more screen time were sadly blips and certain plot points were either completely excised or truncated.

However, given how well the film works despite these few flaws is a testament to the skill and mastery of the medium Miike has. He also shows how much of a love he has of the source material in that he is able to retain the heart and soul, and beauty of the manga even with the limitations of not having 19 years to tell the story.

Fans of the original manga as well as fans of Miike’s previous films will love this movie.

I found myself literally sitting on the edge of my seat watching it. I found it riveting and what stands out to me the most, like his other films, is Takashi’s ability to present chaos and utter mayhem in an almost poetic and elegant way. He keeps the screen filled with movement while never leaving the viewer confused as to what is happening. He uses choreography and skillful editing to create impactful action sequences. Equally, his comedic timing and dark humor are brilliant. He uses it to ease pent up tension during and after fight scenes while never feeling out of place or misused.

I am so happy that this film exists and I love seeing some of the scenes and characters in live action.

Miike’s 100th film is a masterful show of all his talents and his unique style and vision are a perfect fit to tell the tale of the “Immortal swordsman”, Manji and his insane tale. I couldn’t think of a better suited film maker to do it justice.

 

Blade of The Immortal is now playing in limited release.
For details, visit BladeOfTheImmortalFilm.com/

 

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