BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL – Takashi Miike’s 100th Movie

From everyone at Salty Popcorn we wish a HUGE centenary congratulations to director on his 100th film. Such an epic accomplishment that not many people would hold claim to. Kernel Jack had the joy of reviewing THE BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL The film releases in Australia the Thursday 16th November. It is rated a very bloody MA15+ and runs for 140mins. Enjoy Jack’s thoughts…….all the best…….JK. 

BY

It takes a lot to direct a movie. There’s a lot of time, sweat, frustration and love put into the craft, and I appreciate the effect. Directing a film is hard. Directing a hundred films is even harder. Yet that’s exactly what BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL director Takashi Miike has done. Throughout his decades long career, he’s brought all sorts of violence and provocative imagery to the screen in a variety of different ways, releasing film after film after film (the early 2000s had him releasing up to eight films a year!). It’s impressive to say the least. And now, BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL is here, and it’s certainly worthy of his 100th film celebration.

 

 Blades of the Immortal Movie image

 

BLADES OF THE IMMORTAL SYNOPSIS:

Based on a Japanese , we follow the story of Manji (), a samurai cursed to a life of immortality after tragedy struck many years back. Cut forward fifty years and we find him living a life of seclusion. After decades of violence and anger, he’s finally settling down, but when a young girl named Rin () comes to him, begging for help in taking vengeance against the samurai who murdered her family, Manji’s quest for purpose is rejuvenated. He steps out from the shadows and returns to a world of extreme violence, where he’s tested at every corner and forced to confront the sins of his past.

 

Blades of the Immortal Movie image
Takuya Kimura

 

AN EPIC STORY: 

It’s a dark and gruesome tale of one man’s hidden quest for death disguised as a quest for life. The story is big and epic, where severed limbs are aplenty and blood is spurting from almost every frame, yet screenwriter Tetsuya Oishi never lets the excessive violence get in the way of the plot. It all serves a purpose. Every bit of grizzly, nightmarish imagery plays into the characteristics of Manji and his dark past. This is a man at the end of his days, longing for a death he knows will never come and hoping that this quest may just lead him to retribution.

It plays out kind of like a samurai version of LOGAN, with Manji taking on the role of Hugh Jackman’s withered Wolverine. They’re thematic cousins, taking place in two completely different settings, but both telling a similar type of story. BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL is a tale of a hero’s end, where a man has lost his way in the outskirts of civilization, until a young girl comes along and takes him on a journey of self-discovery, and one that will ultimately serve a greater purpose. They’d make for a very interesting and incredibly gruesome double feature.

 

Blades of the Immortal Movie image

 

EXCESSIVE, STYLIZED VIOLENCE: 

Every set piece of full of extreme, over-the-top violence, but it’s so much fun to watch unfold, even though the portrayal of women is… not fantastic. The samurai fights are long and graphic, but always brutal entertainment. Characters jump and leap about in the most acrobatic of ways, still swinging their swords about after taking several bullets to the chest (and I’m not just talking about the immortal characters). It adds to this sense of surrealism, something woven into its mostly grounded story, while also taking you out and creating the occasional unintentional laugh.

Not a single character that lost a limb, or limbs, ever seemed to mind. They just rolled their eyes and sighed in the same way one would if their phone ran out of battery on the bus trip home. An inconvenience for sure, but one that’s never seen as all that big of a deal in the long run, despite it certainly being so. There are plenty of smaller, idiotic moments such as that throughout, and it’s puzzling. You get this big, bombastic action-drama that’s so proud of its humanity and final chapter-vibes, then it goes and throws in some of the dumbest reactions to any situation ever.

 

Blades of the Immortal Movie image

 

UNNECESSARILY LONG: 

BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL clocks in at 140 minutes, and it’s a runtime that really started getting to me after a while. The first hour flies by, as does the final half an hour (mostly because it’s one big fight, and damn was it epic), but that still leaves about an hour in between, and that’s when BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL really needed some trimming. A lot of dialogue exchanges are over-long, and all the plot really focuses on is Manji and Rin facing bigger and bigger threats while making their way towards the main antagonist. It plays out like a video game. And no, that isn’t a good thing.

By the time the credits roll, you definitely feel as though you’ve earned it, but the journey there is excessive in length and needs a real trim. The opening twenty minutes are especially choppy. We get three separate introductions to what this movie is going to be, each one of them longer and more derivative than the last. An opening prologue is especially lengthy. I get it, you want me to care about these characters, but we’re dealing with a near two and a half-hour long movie. There’s plenty of time to get to know them along the way. No need to cram it all into the opening act.

 

Blades of the Immortal Movie image
Takuya Kimura

 

IN CONCLUSION:

There’s a lingering feeling of “I’ve seen this before” throughout BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL. You have. Not only is it LOGAN 2.0, but also it is, at its core, a very generic revenge tale, executed in a way that redeems the basic plot and creates an emotionally investing, excessively violent and ridiculously entertaining samurai blast that you’re going to have an extremely hard time trying not to like. If this is what Miike’s 100th film looks like, imagine what the future holds.

 

 

 

YOUR CRITIC:

When he’s not spending an embarrassing amount of hours browsing through Netflix, Jack Dignan dedicates his time to reviewing movies of all genres and languages. He has done so since 2012. He also maintains a website of his own – www.directorscutmovies.com – and ever since their interview, he’s been best friends with Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino just doesn’t know it yet. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.