Director: Takashi Miike
Starring: Takuya Kimura, Hana Sugisaki
Review Author: Tony
Legendary Japanese director Takashi Miike has now officially released his 100th film. No that is not a typo. The man is an absolute workhorse behind the camera. Miike has explored nearly every genre possible at this point in his career but is infamous for his blend ultraviolence and depravity. Infamously, Miike joined an ensemble of famous horror directors to each direct an episode of an anthology series called Masters of Horror. The show offered a platform for the directors to go nuts and push the boundaries of tv censorship. Miike’s episode, Imprint, was so disturbing that the episode has never been shown on American television.
Out of a choice of 100 films, I have only seen 4, but thankfully they are among his most well-known films (Audition, Ichi the Killer, Dead or Alive, 13 Assassins). While I certainly wouldn’t dispute the controversial reputation Miike has gained, I also feel that he uses an over-the-top, cartoonish style that prevents the gore and depravity from becoming unwatchable. My favourite Miike film is 13 Assassins, a samurai epic in a similar vein as the wild bunch or The Dirty Dozen which reminded me a lot of Blade of the Immortal in both setting and style.
Based on the renowned manga (Japanese comic/graphic novel) of the same name, Blade of the Immortal follows the story of a disgraced ronin, Manji. Manji’s sister is killed in an ambush and in the ensuing battle Manji triumphs over 100 men but is mortally wounded. However, his death is interrupted by a witch who saves/curses him with immortality. Many years later he is hired by a young girl who seeks revenge for the murder of her parents by a group of renegade warriors.
First off, this film is bonkers. The style, weapons, costumes, and characters are definitely ripped straight out of a manga. There are more than one many-against-a-few battle scenes that are breathtaking to witness and shot expertly by Miike giving them a sense of validity. Manji is fantastic as the bitter warrior who views his immortality as a curse but also carries himself with a sarcastic confidence knowing he’ll come out on top in any fight. The film takes a sadistic delight in the fact that Manji can be sliced and diced and still reattach severed limbs and keep on ticking. Manji’s invulnerability produces some big laughs especially at Manji’s expense as he is not impervious to pain.
There is a rinse and repeat nature to the film that bogs it down slightly. For his 100th film, Blade of the Immortal is strangely the safest Takashi Miike film I’ve seen so far. It’s a revenge story we’ve seen a million times before and has more than a few similarities to films like True Grit and Logan. In fact, the climactic battle felt very similar to 13 Assassins.
Blade of the Immortal is a blast an worth the admission price for the opening battle scene alone. Blade of the Immortal has a very familiar concept but sets itself apart with blistering fight scenes, slapstick gore effects and characters with great depth.
Rating: 4 / 5 Sake