If you have seen one samurai fight you’ve seen them all, as so I thought anyway. But Blade of the Immortal has so much action it’s hard to turn away from the screen. It’s slice and dice Japanese style with enough combat to fill two movies. If you are a fan of films like Mortal Kombat then this film should be on your list to see this weekend. You may even know the name Tasashi Miike for his fame directing films like this.
The samurai warrior Manji gets a visit from Hishiyasu Shido with his gang of 100 behind. One of his men hold Manji’s sister Machi captive as the warrior approaches Hishiyasu. They have words and agree to let Machi go, but as she passes Hishiyasu he kills her and a fight breaks out between Manji and the 100. Following the fight Yaobikuni, a woman of special powers, gives Manji a cure of blood worms that will make him immortal and he goes on his way leaving a hundred lifeless bodies behind.
It’s 50 years later and we find Rin, a young girl learning martial arts and sword play at the Mutenichi-ryn school. She’s the daughter of warrior and dojo master Asano. The school gets taken by force by Anotsu Kagehisa the leader of a new order the Itto-ryu in a bloody clash sparing Rin. In a twist of fate, Rin runs down Manji who takes her under his wing. So beings a bloody, brutal war between the Itto-yu and Manji.
Blade of the Immortal is the 100th movie of legendary Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike know for 13 Assassins, Hara-Kiri Death of a Samurai, Sukiyaki Western Django (with Quintin Tarantino) and too many to mention. Here Miike mixes death with immortality and love for those that are under oppression.
Guiding his cinematographers he gets close-ups of the battles with weapons slashing and disemboweling those who go up against Manji. He brings in another immortal who has a grudge against Manji and things get fierce with one-on-one combat that’s amazingly choreographed for exciting thrills and chills. The cameramen have a field day with 100’s of fighters on a vast battlefield as Manji takes on the mob.
Playing the part of Manji is veteran Takuya Kimura who has 53 credits most of which are action thrillers. Here he shows his ability to swing a sword and other piercing instruments of battle as he takes on 100’s of fighters. Losing a hand or arm doesn’t stop him as being immortal they grow back on. He moves like a Samurai and fights like a bull in a china shop as he attacks his enemies. He makes the film a winner for those who like the genre.
Blade of the Immortal has not been rated by the MPAA, but contains extreme violence throughout with blood guts and death all around. The opening scene is relative to the rest of the film as it goes from one passage to another as Manji finds his revenge. The film is not for the squeamish or the immature as “realism” cuts deep within the movie. The move spools out in Japanese with English Subtitles.
FINAL ANALYSIS: One of the better martial arts films I’ve seen in a decade. (4.5 out of 5)
Additional Film Information
Cast: Takuya Kimura and Hana Sugisaki, Sota Fukushi, Erika Toda, Takuya Kimura, Hana Sugisaki, Sôta Fukushi
Directed by: Takashi Miike
Genre: Action, Drama, Martial Arts, Samurai
MPAA Rating: Not Rated, Contains extreme continuous violence, language
Running Time: 2 hrs 20 min.
Release Date: November 3, 2017
Distributed by: Magnolia Films
Released in: Japanese with English Subtitles
The comments within this review are the critic’s expressed opinions.