Manji, a highly skilled samurai, becomes cursed with immortality after a legendary battle. Haunted by the brutal murder of his sister, Manji knows that only fighting evil will regain his soul. He promises to help a young girl named Rin avenge her parents, who were killed by a group of master swordsmen led by ruthless warrior Anotsu. The mission will change Manji in ways he could never imagine - ...
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Manji, a highly skilled samurai, becomes cursed with immortality after a legendary battle. Haunted by the brutal murder of his sister, Manji knows that only fighting evil will regain his soul. He promises to help a young girl named Rin avenge her parents, who were killed by a group of master swordsmen led by ruthless warrior Anotsu. The mission will change Manji in ways he could never imagine - the 100th film by master director Takashi Miike.
Manji is named after the symbol on his kimono in the original manga: the manji symbol being the Japanese Swazstika symbolising the cycle of life before it was bastardised by the Nazi regime. In the film the symbol is changed so as not to offend. In the original manga, manji has the symbol emblazoned on the earth of his kimono. See more »
This review of Blade of the Immortal is spoiler free
Japanese VETERAN WRITER/DIRECTOR Takashi Miike is a busy man. Of course with 100 films to his name you don't expect him to take a break at some point. But as anyone will tell you if you have a dream to pursue or a record to break, then go for it. The latter may be what Miike is aiming to do here, at only 57 years-old who's to say he can't make another 100 features in his future years. To be fair, nobody would blame him.
His latest Blade of the Immortal he shows to have lost none of that signature madcap energy which made the frenetic action from Ichi the Killer and 13 Assassins. An adaptation of Hiroaki Samura's manga of the same name. We open with Manji (Takuya Kumira) a skilled samurai in a revenge battle after the death of his sister, after killing what seems to be an army of swordsmen he's brutally injured in comes a mysterious woman who gives him a terrible curse: Immortality. This, obviously, means he can never die, but this power comes with the ability to heal his wounds, yes, a bit like Wolverine. Though Manji doesn't heal by simply liquid adamantium running through his body, Miike's way to make him heal is more gruesome and more painful. With this curse and his skill with the sword he promises to help Hana Sugisaki's Rin, a girl who wants revenge after her parents are killed by Anotsu Kagehisa (Sôta Fukushi) the leader of a group of swordsmen.
Whereas 13 Assassins was more of a classical tale with samurai fighting behind a backdrop of ancient Japan, Blade of the Immortal is a bit more comical and could essentially be seen as the mutant child between 13 Assassins, Ichi the Killer and X-Men. Unlike the clawed mutant, Manji has to kill a thousand evil men in order to regain mortality. Let the sword fighting begin! Yet, again Miike keeps up his tradition of a rising body count, blood splattering all over the ground and limbs flying everywhere. And with a runtime of 2 hours and 20 minutes that's quite a lot of bodies, good luck counting them.
Indeed, Miike isn't shy to introduce new techniques during the swordfights, one particular standout is a woman wielding a kind of hand-held corn plough, and other than that standout he loses a point for lacking originality as most of the fight scenes including the long finale often feel repetitive. However what the film lacks in originality he gains the point back for the kinetic thrills and his characterization of the heroes and the villain, their performances are incredible. Despite the high body count, Blade of the Immortal is both extremely warm and funny and is perhaps one of his best films yet, it's big, it's bloody and it's brilliant. Congratulations, Miike on your centenary!
VERDICT Frenetic action meets healing powers Miike's 100th film is filled with more, madcap energy and more kinetic thrills than most Hollywood actioners.
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