Blade of the Immortal kicks off with an epic outmatched brawl featuring the film’s heroic samurai Manji (Takuya Kimura) facing off against a hoard of sword-wielding enemies. The fight scene, despite some shaky cinematography, is an excellent sequence of non-stop action featuring the same audacious violence director Takashi Miike has been known to provide.
Miike, who also wrote the adapted screenplay, also does a good job at quickly setting the stakes so that the audience can connect to these characters during the prologue; including a turn by a mysterious being who gives the wounded Manji the title immortality that may actually be a detrimental gift in the long run.
But, then this same confrontation repeats, only this time with less enemies. And, then it repeats again, and again, and again until the film concludes with another huge fight that mirrors the beginning. Clocking out shy of two-and-a-half hours, the tedious Blade of the Immortal wears thin with its repetitive storytelling and visuals. Takashi Miike, at least, acknowledges the tilted advantage as the invincible Manji fights increasingly challenging foes. This is why I appreciated the occasional twist the filmmaker threw in for good measure to make the fights fair, as well as the ongoing crisis Manji is facing as he yearns to complete his legacy.
In the case of Takashi Miike’s Blade of the Immortal, I flip-flop between a recommendation. Mainstream audiences hardly receive action movies as layered or relentless as this one. Also, when was the last time you saw a new samurai movie? It’s a sub-genre full of culture and skill that is slowly fading away. However, this particular resurgence is a vicious circle that is unnecessarily long – it’s literal overkill.
The choice is up to you, reader, as it always is.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie
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