Thursday, 14 December 2017

#97 BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL



Starring Takuya Kimura, Hana Sugisaki written by Tetsuya Oishi. Based on a Manga by Hiroaki Samura. Directed by Takashi Miike. Running time 141 minutes. Certificate 18.

When disgraced Samurai Manji (Takuya Kimura) is infected by sacred bloodworms given to him by an 800 year-old nun he is forever cursed with immortality, and although he can never die, he still feels the agony of healing after each and every wound and injury.

52 years later, the sole survivor of a massacre that claims the lives of her parents, Rin (Hana Sugisaki) stumbles into Manji's life and begs him to avenge the death of her family by hunting down Kagehisa Anotsua (Sōta Fukushi) the master swordsman who killed them. It transpires that Kagehisa dreams of destroying all other Dojos so that his will be the only one. Manji reluctantly agrees and together they embark on a quest for vengeance culminating in an utterly blood-soaked final showdown that will see the deaths of literally hundreds of Samurai.

This is the 100th film directed by Japanese legend Takashi Miike whose films range from bloody violent Samurai movies and Yakuza crime flicks to family friendly movies.

Blade of the Immortal is unlike an American or European film you'll ever see. It's beautifully shot and the pacing and structure is strangely alien, particularly if you're used to having your stories laid out in a nice little line. Japanese films often seem structured in such a way that the audience has to play attention and they seem to be expected to fill in the blanks when and wherever necessary. 

The action is superb, the violence almost balletic in nature, the running time is somewhat bum numbing. Although that said the relentless sword fighting never gets boring, somehow Miike is able to present fight after fight with aplomb and skill. It's helped that the villains culminating in the final showdown between Manji and Kageshisa, seem to get bigger, better and more outlandish. Ranging from one-armed men with the sharpened bones of his arm stump acting as a pretty savage stabbing weapon to a fellow immortal with a death wish. 

This is an operatic and sweeping epic action flick that contains many images that will stay with you long after the movie has ended. It's also impressive that a film with such a simple structure should still engender the characters with real depth and feelings that we the audience care for them. 

A very satisfying and unique film and well worth checking out, particularly if you like blood-soaked Samurai flicks about revenge and honour.

8/10

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