Takashi Miike’s 100th film adapted from Hiroaki Samura’s Manga is a riotous bloodbath about a young girl named Rin (Hana Sugisaki turning in a cheeky performance) who strikes up a friendship with immortal samurai Manji (Takuya Kimura). He’s a moody and worn-down character who fights with a sword that ‘smells like innards.’
There’s shades of Logan in their journey to avenge the murder of Rin’s family by a vicious gang of swordsmen who are intent on shaking up the rigid regime of the dojo schools.
The opening sequence alone will blow your socks off, shot in black and white a battle between Manji and a band of violent villagers commences after they threaten his sister. The breathless scene ends with the splatter of blood dripping over the credits as the picture turns to colour. Sweet, sweet fury, a mischievous, knowing sense of humour and the evolving relationship between Rin and Manji ensure a brisk, involving pace.
The effects team have a ball with scattered limbs that reattach themselves via sacred bloodworms. The stitching process is a gory and slippery delight. When another immortal swordsman enters the picture his gruesome slaying is ably handled by them.
Where it differs quite greatly from Logan is in the character of Rin. She’s introduced at the start as a bit of a tomboy and a promising warrior who rejects tradition. She’s determined in her quest, yet Manji is in the spotlight for most of the fighting. Rin is a bit bumbling with her throwing blades and her path to revenge is painted as a more psychological and moral journey. She begins to question why she seeks revenge and learns along the way.
Blade Of The Immortal is as charming as it is violent. At one point Manji literally offers his shoulder for Rin to cry on to mourn the death of her family and under his wise leadership she questions the meaning of good and evil. When it comes to the laying down of bloody retribution Miike doesn’t allow his characters to sit on the fence. They show regret, and most importantly they discuss the pain and heartbreak.
Blade Of The Immortal was seen and reviewed at the Cannes Film Festival 2017.