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
SEARCH RESULTS FOR
The Korean Film Festival in Australia is underway - make sure you click here to check out our reviews from this year's line-up!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

BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL

★★★★

A GLORIOUSLY VIOLENT FILM

SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
LATEST REVIEWS
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.

'BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL' TRAILER

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.

FAST FACTS
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
TOP-RATED REVIEWS
Looking for more Sydney Film Festival reviews? Click here to check out our collection of this year's highlights.
Ride Like a Girl - Michelle Payne's Melbourne Cup win rides onto the big screen
TRENDINGWIN RIDE LIKE A GIRLMichelle Payne's Melbourne Cup win rides onto the big screen
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark - Terrifying tales come to life
TRENDINGWIN SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARKTerrifying tales come to life
Ad Astra - A luscious and meticulous space drama
TRENDINGAD ASTRAA luscious and meticulous space drama
Ride Like a Girl - Melbourne Cup biopic plagued by race's questionable history
TRENDINGRIDE LIKE A GIRLMelbourne Cup biopic plagued by race's questionable history
And Then We Danced - A passionate and remarkable classic in the making
TRENDINGAND THEN WE DANCEDA passionate and remarkable classic in the making
2040 - A hopeful look into our environmental future
TRENDING2040A hopeful look into our environmental future
Gallipoli - A powerful and important film remembered
TRENDINGGALLIPOLIA powerful and important film remembered
Braid - A dark and unhinged fairytale
TRENDINGBRAIDA dark and unhinged fairytale
Good Boys - More than just a young 'Superbad'
TRENDINGGOOD BOYSMore than just a young 'Superbad'
Dreamland - Surrealist noir
TRENDINGDREAMLANDSurrealist noir
Inseparable Bros - A heartwarming tale about disability and the power of friendship
TRENDINGINSEPARABLE BROSA heartwarming tale about disability and the power of friendship
Portrait of a Lady on Fire - A perfect film on the language of desire
TRENDINGPORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIREA perfect film on the language of desire
The Keeper - The true story of the Nazi goalkeeper and the English girl
TRENDINGTHE KEEPERThe true story of the Nazi goalkeeper and the English girl
Parasite - A bloodthirsty and very funny look at class warfare
TRENDINGPARASITEA bloodthirsty and very funny look at class warfare
The Wandering Chef - A delicious tale of human connection
TRENDINGTHE WANDERING CHEFA delicious tale of human connection
Fuck You All: The Uwe Boll Story - A sympathetic portrait of the ultimate Hollywood outsider
TRENDINGFUCK YOU ALL: THE UWE BOLL STORYA sympathetic portrait of the ultimate Hollywood outsider
Sydney Underground Film Festival 2019 - The reviews
TRENDINGSYDNEY UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL 2019The reviews
Dora and the Lost City of Gold - Dora meets Indiana Jones (and a song about poop)
TRENDINGDORA AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLDDora meets Indiana Jones (and a song about poop)
Ladyworld - Experimental thriller not so thrilling
TRENDINGLADYWORLDExperimental thriller not so thrilling
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