If you’ve a strong stomach for violence and are up for 140 minutes of almost constant fighting, then Blade Of The Immortal is an enormously enjoyable time at the cinema. Just don’t eat a big meal first.
Japanese director Takashi Miike’s blood-drenched revenge movie is an adaptation of Hiroaki Samura’s manga series. There are shades of Wolverine here, especially through lead Manji (Takuya Kimura). A brooding warrior incapable of polite conversation, he’s a force for good but only begrudgingly, capable of dispatching countless enemies in a blur of blades and possessed of the ability to heal himself. He is, as the title says, immortal – and it is not a gift he enjoys.
Manji acquires his powers from “sacred bloodworms of the Holy Lama”. With nothing else to fill his eternity, he agrees to help a young girl track down and kill the man who murdered her father, and so begins an excitingly gruesome parade of weirdos for him to fight to the death (always theirs, on account of the immortality).
Blade Of The Immortal might lack originality – it unfolds with the episodic simplicity of a ’90s video game, introducing ever tougher bosses to battle – but there’s a lot that’s fun. This is Miike’s 100th film, and he has spent years making movies splattered with viscera (Audition, Ichi The Killer). He really knows how to put together a good, gory fight, employing complicated weapons, superpowers and bouncy wirework trickery to give each fight its own spectacular personality. In each subsequent scene, Miike brutally tests the boundaries of Manji’s immortality, his various extremities being repeatedly hacked off then grossly knotted back together by his resident worms. It’s all mad and marvellous.
- Release Date: 8 December, 2017