Keep up-to-date on your favourite artists and movies, track gig and release dates, and join in the conversation.
Want more? Listen to our discussion of 'Blade Of The Immortal' on SWITCHCast
With this year's Jewish International Festival underway, SWITCH has checked out the program - click here to read our reviews.x
review, Blade Of The Immortal, Blade, Of, The, Immortal, film, movie, latest movies, new movie, movie ratings, current movie reviews, latest films, recent movies, current movies, movie critics, new movie reviews, latest movie reviews, latest movies out, the latest movies, review film, latest cinema releases, Australian reviews, cinema, cinema reviews, Takuya Kimura, Hana Sugisaki, Sota Fukushi, Hayato Ichihara, Erika Toda, Ebizo Ichikawa, Chiaki Kuriyama, Kazuki Kitamura, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Min Tanaka, Takashi Miike, Action, Drama film rating




By Jake Watt
18th June 2017

For his 100th film, prolific Japanese gore auteur Takashi Miike (‘Ichi the Killer’, ‘Audition’, ‘Sukiyaki Western Django’) returns to the jidaigeki (historical) action movie territory of his superlative ’13 Assassins’ (2010) and ‘Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai’ (2011), with ‘Blade of the Immortal’, based on Hiroaki Samura’s eponymous manga series.

Set during Japan’s mid-Edo period, the opening prologue, filmed in black and white, features a long, gruesome fight between the lone Manji (a gruff turn by SMAP heartthrob Takuya Kimura, ‘Love & Honour’, ‘Space Battleship Yamato’, ‘2046’) and at least three hundred well-armed mercenaries. On the verge of death, he’s sliced open by an old crone, who deposits "sacred bloodworms" in his belly, which can heal any wound. Unchanged 50 years later, Manji is living in in a hut outside a small village when he’s approached by the prepubescent Rin (a luminous Hanna Sugisaki, ‘Pieta in the Toilet’, ‘Her Love Boils Bath Water’) after her parents are brutally murdered. Their killer is Kagehisa Anotsu (Sota Fukushi, ‘As the God’s Will’), the semi-androgynous head of a cadre of swordsmen called the Ittō-ryū, who is trying to unite all the schools of swordsmanship under his banner.


Comparisons with James Mangold’s fantastic ‘Logan’ abound. Just like Wolverine, thanks to the “sacred bloodworms” coursing through his veins, Manji can heal any wound and ages in slow motion. Living in self-imposed exile, he is covered in scars and weary of his immortality. The film also hinges on the relationship between the older sell-sword and young girl he’s paid to protect. There’s even a fight scene where Manji and another immortal swordsman, Eiku Shizuma (Ichikawa Ebizō XI), hack away at each other, both incapable of dying.

This is a gloriously violent film. The one-against-one-hundred fight scenes, just like ’13 Assassins’, are shot in tight close-ups and medium shots by Nobuyasu Kita, with some brutal choreography by Keiji Tsuji and Masayoshi Deguchi. ‘Blade of the Immortal’ is also darkly comical - Takashi Miike, as always, has a wicked sense of humour to accompany his gory action set pieces. At a packed screening for the Sydney Film Festival, the audience laughed regularly at things like the loser of a duel being reduced to a chatty, Monty Python-esque living torso and the camera pulling back to reveal Manji standing amidst a small mountain of his dead assailants.

Takashi Miike, as always, has a wicked sense of humour to accompany his gory action set pieces.

‘Blade of the Immortal’ is impressively adapted from the manga by screenwriter Tetsuya Oishi, whose previous credits include the live-action adaptation of the manga series ‘Death Note’. Oishi manages to hammer a sprawling storyline and myriad of characters into the plot of a 2 hour 20 minute film, the script treating various issues in the long-running series as if they were chapters in a book.

A surprisingly dense plot springs a few surprises, including a political conspiracy and a double-cross between swordplay schools. Not unlike Ten Shimoyama’s ‘Shinobi: Heart Under Blade’ (based on Futaro Yamada's novel ‘The Kouga Ninja Scrolls’), the film is bullet-pointed by the particularities of each Ittō-ryū assassin - all whom have crazy costumes, personalities and fighting styles. Gradually, Manji and Rin carve their way towards a battle with the big boss. Does this get repetitive? Yes. Repetitively awesome? YES!

The downside of a film that compresses the storyline of a 30-volume manga series published over 19 years is that several characters are given short shrift. Fan favourite Taito Magatsu (Shinnosuke Mitsushima) and the Mugai-ryū gang have much smaller roles, with iconic actress Chiaki Kuriyama (‘Battle Royale’, ‘Kill Bill’) in a tiny cameo.

In a nutshell, ‘Blade of the Immortal’ is a thrilling, complex and hugely fun action film. If this is the standard of Takashi Miike’s cinematic output, 100 films into his career as a director, I hope he gets to make 100 more of them.

RELEASE DATE: 16/11/2017
RUN TIME: 2h 20m
CAST: Takuya Kimura
Hana Sugisaki
Sota Fukushi
Hayato Ichihara
Erika Toda
Ebizo Ichikawa
Chiaki Kuriyama
Kazuki Kitamura
Tsutomu Yamazaki
Min Tanaka
DIRECTOR: Takashi Miike
PRODUCERS: Maeda Shigeji
Misako Saka
Jeremy Thomas
Looking for more Sydney Film Festival reviews? Click here to check out our collection of this year's highlights.
Knives Out - The smart, star-packed whodunnit
TRENDINGWIN KNIVES OUTThe smart, star-packed whodunnit
Flack: Season 1 - Anna Paquin's darkly comedic drama
TRENDINGWIN FLACK: SEASON 1Anna Paquin's darkly comedic drama
The Expanse: Season 3 - The terrifying next phase
TRENDINGWIN THE EXPANSE: SEASON 3The terrifying next phase
Suzi Q - Celebrating a female rock icon
TRENDINGSUZI QCelebrating a female rock icon
NT Live: Fleabag - The birth of Phoebe Waller-Bridge's masterwork
TRENDINGNT LIVE: FLEABAGThe birth of Phoebe Waller-Bridge's masterwork
God of the Piano - A tale that tickles the ivories
TRENDINGGOD OF THE PIANOA tale that tickles the ivories
The Furies - A bloody well-executed gorefest
TRENDINGTHE FURIESA bloody well-executed gorefest
Bangla - A truly beautiful mess
TRENDINGBANGLAA truly beautiful mess
And Then We Danced - A passionate and remarkable classic in the making
TRENDINGAND THEN WE DANCEDA passionate and remarkable classic in the making
The Captain America Trilogy - The finest films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe come to 4K UHD
TRENDINGTHE CAPTAIN AMERICA TRILOGYThe finest films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe come to 4K UHD
Marriage Story - Simply extraordinary
Jewish International Film Festival 2019 - The reviews
Emu Runner - Another great win for Indigenous storytelling
TRENDINGEMU RUNNERAnother great win for Indigenous storytelling
2040 - A hopeful look into our environmental future
TRENDING2040A hopeful look into our environmental future
A Royal Affair - On frills and freedom
TRENDINGA ROYAL AFFAIROn frills and freedom
Children of the Sea - Sunk by a soggy script
Stupid Young Heart - Irresponsible teens with no consequences
TRENDINGSTUPID YOUNG HEARTIrresponsible teens with no consequences
Midsommar - Ari Aster brings the gore but lacks the emotion
TRENDINGMIDSOMMARAri Aster brings the gore but lacks the emotion
Zoo - Toothless and shambling
TRENDINGZOOToothless and shambling
Judy & Punch - A dark fairytale from a fresh Australian voice
TRENDINGJUDY & PUNCHA dark fairytale from a fresh Australian voice
© 2011 - 2019 midnightproductions
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us