Blade of The Immortal: DVD Review
For his 100th feature, director Miike Takeshi has reached for the epic, and ended up in the cartoonish.
With plenty of choreographed samurai mayhem and blood and slicing a-plenty, it's the story of Kimura Takuya's Manji. Manji's cursed to live as an immortal after being healed by a witch following a fight to take down those who killed his sister in front of him.
Opening with a 11 minute pre-titles sequence that sets the stall out with gusto (fights and humour, including a line about how something's not a rice ball, but a horse turd), give you an indication of what lies ahead in this 141 minute film. Though, as the film goes on, it does feel like it needs more of this.
Hired years later as a bodyguard to someone called Rin who looks uncannily like his sister, Manji has to slice and dice his way through retribution, conspiracy, revenge and superstition.
Based on a Manga series and with an ethos that's more crowd-pleasing than arthouse fare, Blade of The Immortal is a film to wallow in rather than to over-analyse.
In many ways, Miike's 100th film is a traditional film; one with minimal dialogue that concentrates on the action and gives those who love the genre exactly what they'd want - and more.
A little long in the tooth in parts and with perhaps one too many slow narrative bits to balance out the action, it's more a film of atmospherics that genre fans will lap up and adore, rather than attracting new admirers to the cause.
But its ethos of revenge and vengeance is a universal one to savour and Miike's desire to expertly capture everything as it unfolds means that it's certainly going to have a cult appeal and be adored by those who already love the genre.