BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL
A grouchy Samurai helps a girl exact bloody vengeance in Takashi Miike’s latest.
released 8 december 18 | 141 minutes Director Takashi miike Cast Takuya Kimura, Hana sugisaki, sôta Fukushi, Hayato Ichihara
Japanese director Takeshi Miike’s 100th film is as violent, crazy and genre-defying as everything else in his filmography (which includes Audition, Ichi The Killer and 13 Assassins). Blade opens with a prologue so violent you assume the censors insisted it was switched to black and white to get a certificate. When our hero Manji is cursed with immortality as a punishment for killing 100 people (right in front of us), we cut to 50 years later, shift to glorious colour (mostly red) and our story kicks off for real.
An orphaned girl, Rin, searches out Manji, who is grumpily living in isolation, hiring him to be her bodyguard as she takes revenge on Master Anotsu, the man who killed her parents. As Manji aids Rin, he finds himself confronting his own past – in-between having bloody scraps with the widest array of weirdos we’ve seen on-screen since Luke stepped into the Cantina for a quick pint. The plot – grouchy immortal protects young girl by chopping down everyone in his path – might sound like another film from this year, the masterful Logan, and it explores similar themes, particularly the effects of a lifetime of violence. But Blade cuts deeper, with its cartoon visuals and comic-book pacing (it’s based on a manga) a cover for some of the most complex explorations of the cyclical nature of vengeance we’ve seen in a film that contains so many limbs being lopped off.
It’s beautifully choreographed, thrilling and surprisingly funny (imagine Nietzsche wrote an episode of Bottom), with a cast that wrings every last drop of emotion from the (admittedly ridiculous) high-concept – what more could you want from a modern samurai flick? If this is what Miike can achieve with his 100th film, we eagerly await his 200th. Sam Ashurst
Takuya Kimura was a member of popular ’80s Japanese boy band SMAP – who disbanded before Blade’s release.
Takuya’s new penknife wasn’t very practical.