Blade of the Immortal

Year: 2017
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: Takashi Miike
Writer: Hiroaki Samura/Tetsuya Oishi
Cast: Takuya Kimura

It's very hard to pin down why this film wasn't as enjoyable as I wanted it to be. It might simply be that after 20 years since Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, we've seen enough chop socky so the same old stuff doesn't impress anymore.

Maybe the story was just a bit too simple. It certainly wasn't as empty headed as the average ham-fisted Hollywood blockbuster lurching from one set piece or fight scene to the next, but the script was fairly loose and fluid – I was made aware of it because the next movie I watched was incredibly character driven, dialogue heavy and fast paced and I was rivetted. Here, in what's been called Takashi Miike's 100th film, I found my attention drifting.

The long opening battle is the kind of thing that would have had jaws dropping in the early stages of the resurgence of the genre. After a local gangster captures and kills his little sister in front of him, samurai Manji (Takuya Kimura) slaughters his way through about 100 of the villain's minions with only his sword before slumping to the ground, near dead from his own injuries, when a hooded figure with a snakelike voice approaches him and imbues him with scared worms that reattach hacked off limbs, heal wounds and render Manji immortal.

Decades later, a hermit on the shores of a seamy swamp, he's approached by another young girl who wants to avenge her father's death at the hands of a local warlord. Haunted by memories of his sister, who he failed to protect, Manji agrees. What happens then is a series of fuzzy memories after just a few weeks, and while the story from then on isn't by any means one note or straightforward, there aren't any characters, dialogue or scenes particularly worth remembering. I remember being more impressed with the trailer than the final movie.

Being a Takashi Miike film I also might have been expecting a lot more inventive claret-splashing then the movie actually had – nothing about it made it seem distinct to his oeuvre, where movies that can turn your stomach like Ichi the Killer or Audition did.

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