Japan’s most famously hardworking, innovative and controversial director Takashi Miike (Audition, Ichi The Killer) returns to the spotlight with Blade Of The Immortal, a period film with a difference.
Based on Hiroakai Samura’s Manga of the same name, the film follows Manji, a samurai cursed with immortality, who is called to the aid of young girl, who bears resemblance to his deceased sister Rin, who wants revenge for the death of her father. This leads the odd couple on a bloody path of discovery, facing a variety of fierce, outlandish combatants.
The film is a visual treat, showcasing stunning Japanese scenery, costumes and choreography. With the art of live action sequences becoming somewhat lost in modern CGI based action, to see real people performing real stunts and beautifully choreographed fight scenes is something special to behold. It might not be for the very squeamish, featuring such graphic violence, but within the film lies an undeniable beauty and even innocence. As Manji and Rin’s relationship grows, so does the audience’s perspective on the characters’ moral intentions. In this, the film has a kinship with western action favourites such as Leon, Man On Fire and most recently, Logan in that these are films with complicated child/guardian relationships in extreme circumstances.
At its core, the film deals with ancient Japanese conflict, tradition and honour, but never feels stuffy or out of step with modern cinema and retains its source material integrity. The costumes are vibrant and distinctive to the characters, as if they were avatars in a computer game and even the increasingly testing level element of a computer game is at play here, in a way reminiscent of Bruce Lee’s swansong martial arts classic Game Of Death.
A common character in Asian cinema, the supernatural, is woven into the fabric of the story in a way similar to a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. Each character goes on a journey of self-discovery, facing their insecurities as much as any deadly, colourful villain they encounter.
Whether you are familiar with Miike’s work or a newcomer, this sits amongst his finest work and his strangest and as a result, is unmissable Japanese cinema. Perhaps it is Miike and not Manji who should be named “The 100 Killer”, since this film holds that number in the director’s canon and will slay you in your seat!Discover Tuesdays presents Blade Of The Immortal on Tuesday 2 January. Find your cinema and book tickets.
Hop House 13 is proud to present Discover Tuesdays.