Blade of the Immortal
Gateway | Vancity Theatre Screening
For his 100th film, the notorious, prodigious 57-year-old Takashi Miike (Audition; Ichi the Killer; 13 Assassins) has elected to amp the samurai movie up to eleven. The body-count here is in three figures within the first ten minutes. Manji (Takuya Kimura) is cursed with immortality by a mysterious old crone who injects him with "blood worms". Cut to 50 years later, and to colour, and Manji reluctantly takes a young girl under his wing as she sets out to avenge her family on the ruthless Anotsu swordsmen who murdered them.
Based on the manga by Hiroaki Samura, The Blade of the Immortal adds magic and the supernatural to the chivalric traditions of the classical samurai film (or "chanbara"), but it’s shot and edited with the same conviction and vigour Miike brought to Hara-kiri and 13 Assassins. The film bounces from one imaginatively staged duel to the next, pausing occasionally for breathe and bonding between the teenage girl and her invulnerable yojimbo.
Hardly an advertisement for immortality, the movie subjects poor Manji to multiple dismemberments (in fact many of his adversaries also seem to lead charmed lives, at least for a while), but this is some kind of pinnacle in action cinema, a wickedly gory and glorious anniversary from a master of the craft.
"With a body count in the thousands and a breakneck pitch that starts at feverishly intense and only builds upwards, "Blade of the Immortal" is certainly one of Takashi Miike’s most lethal works." Ben Croll, Indiewire
"Utterly insane and ultimately a blast." Haleigh Foutch, Collider