SYNOPSIS: Cursed with immortality, skilled swordsman Manji agrees to becomes a young girl's bodyguard, swearing to avenge the slaying of her family.
Not a surprise, Blade of the Immortal is based on a long-running manga series and most of all, it’s directed by Takashi Miike, the prolific filmmaker known internationally for his ultra sadistic and violent flicks.
Ex-SMAP member Takuya Kimura (Hero) stars as Manji, a swordsman with a tragic past who gained immortality after being implanted with sacred bloodworms into his body by a mysterious 800-year-old nun, Yaobikuni. You see, the bloodworms though disgusting in nature helps to heal his body for example a severed limb can simply be reattached in minutes without any pins and needles.
Fifty-two years later after being immortalized by Yaobikuni, Manji leads an aimless lonely life by the river in a broken hut. Until one day, he is persuaded by a teenager, Rin (Hana Sugisaki) to aid her in avenging the death of his father who is brutally slayed by Itto-ryu (Sota Fukushi). The ruthless Itto-ryu wishes to eradicate all forms of dojo and swordplay and his only worthy opponent in the end are none other than Manji (no surprise here again), the reluctant immortal hero.
For his 100th movie, Takashi Miike worked his cinematic magic liked an old pro. Blade of the Immortal is one stylish long fight after another that by the end of the first hour, you probably lost count of how many times Manji got himself bloodily slashed. There are plenty of severed torsos and limbs to go around though Miike expectedly infused every violent act with his trademark wicked sense of dark humor that no one is likely going to faint or go squeamish with the generous spraying of fake blood as well.
The weakest aspect of the entire movie has to go to the scripting. Takashi’s earlier samurai epic, 13 Assassins delved better into the characterisation and emotion while Blade of the Immortal is bloated with too many repetitive scenes. Luckily, the swordplay is engaging especially Manji’s long-list of colorful opponents come in all sorts of demented forms and the cinematography and production design is top-notch. Both Kimura and Hana Sugisaki are excellent as the tortured, long-suffering souls though Sota Fukushi’s villainous character isn’t given much to flesh out.
Blade of the Immortal certainly is no teens-friendly Rurouni Kenshin. While the long-running time can be exhausting to sit through for some, you should give this supernatural samurai epic a chance based on the reputation of Takashi Miike alone.
Review by Linus Tee