Blade of the Immortal (2017)

December 2nd, 2017
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Takashi Miike | Writers: Hiroaki Samura, Tetsuya Oishi | Action Thriller | Japan | 140′

Seasoned manga director Takashi Miike seems to be live forever like his hero Manji played by Takuya Kimura in what is purported to be the Japanese director’s 100th film. How can any artist be original with this body of work behind him, Indeed, BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL lacks the inventive touches of his earlier work but it’s certainly enjoyable and as highly polished as Majii’s extensive weaponry. Adapted from Hiroaki Samura’s manga of the same name, it follows a Shogunate samurai warrior who is endowed with immortality due to the poisoned chalice delivered on him by a white-veiled Buddist nun in the opening scenes. This curse – or boon – depending on how you look at it, is delivered in the form of ‘sacred’ bloodworms scattered on his fatal wounds inflicted during a fight to avenge his sister’s death at the hands of the ruthless Itto-ryu, a school of fighters led by the weirdly tattooed Anotsu (Soto Fukushi). In this way he is rendered impervious to lethal wounds – which heal at the drop of a sword – severed limbs cleverly finding their back to his body. Initially this sounds just the ticket for a Shogun warrior, but as time goes by he gets sick and tired of the whole charade until he meets cute Rin (teen star Hana Sugisaki), a determined tomboy who iis also seeking revenge for her parents who were also slain by the Itto-ryu. This is flesh on the bloody bones of the saga, which limps on in a gore-fuelled second act which never really develops its existing immortal characters but just keeps on introducing us to other ghoulish weirdos including Sabato Kuroi (Kazuki Kitamura) and mysterious monk Eiku Shizuma (Ebizo Ichikawa) who appears to possess an antidote to the bloodworms  in a series of subplots during its 140 minutes of blood-letting and limp-lopping tempered, with occasional stabs of humour amid the mass slaughter. All good clean fun. MT



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