Magic Mi­ike

SFX - - Reviews -

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.

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