MOVIE REVIEW: Blade of the Immortal

Samurai, Sorcery, and so many limbs lost it would make Quentin Tarantino blush.  Manji and his Sister are on the run after he is embroiled in a plot to kill a superior.  One of the men that he kills is his Sisters beloved husband, and she witnesses the killing, sending her into a broken mental state.  While on the run they meet a strange old woman who claims to be 800 years old.  When tragedy strikes Manji and his Sister the old woman gives Manji immortality.  Meaning he will have to live forever without the one person he loves, his sister.  When an evil group kill a fencing school headmaster and kill his wife, his teenage daughter embarks on revenge, sending her in direct danger and into the life of Manji.

I’ve heard that this is based on some Manga book and you’ll have to forgive my ignorance about those things but they never have appealed to me.  I can read different European and American comics all day long, unless my editor asks, in which case I’m working.  I just never got into the rhythm of the different storytelling and there are huge jumps that you have to make as well in the storytelling department.

Reading through the description of the film Blade of the Immortal I thought that I was in for a treat, as usually Manga and Anime adaptations offer a little more than the books.  At two hours and fifteen minutes long the film suffers from being about 30 minutes too long, which is not the biggest problem in the film, the biggest problem by a mile is the editing.  I don’t know if there was a three-year old kid, hopped up on skittles and Red Bull, running around the editing suite with a pair of scissors.  There is the first half an hour which sets out the stall for the rest of the movie and then that three-year old must have burst into the suite and had a great old-time with the scissors.  Before the kiddie and the scissors comes in I honestly thought, this is at least a four out of five, if they can keep up this for the running time it might even be a five.  But soon after the Daughter of the head of the fencing school goes looking for Manji the film editing ruins any feeling of storytelling that was built up earlier.  Also the film at a few different points jumps towards the Charlies Angels style posing from the female fighters, it’s just so bloody odd.

The story gets confusing to say the least and if it wasn’t for great performances from the main performers and some of the sword battles it would have a been a one out five.  But even the sword fights, which would have spectacular if the camera could have taken about three steps back, get hugely repetitive to the point of pointlessness.

So for fans of the original Manga and Japanese films that don’t make much sense, here you go, knock yourself out, in fact knock yourself out rather than explaining to me how I don’t understand this type of film.  I cannot imagine myself seeing this again and although the performances and settings and wardrobe are as near to perfect as you can hope it wouldn’t call me to spend my cash on the price of admission to a screen.

Director: Takashi Miike
Writers: Hiroaki Samura (manga), Tetsuya Oishi (screenplay)
Stars: Takuya KimuraHana SugisakiSôta Fukushi & more… See full cast & crew

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