The First Thousand Cuts Are Always The Deepest
Normally I’d have a stream of barely incomprehensible notes written in the dark after a screening. A notepad of dark induced scribblings that probably look like their natural habitat is the opening title sequence of ‘Se7en’. They are generally handy to capture the fleeting passing thoughts of the silver screen spectacle (or misgivings), or even descriptive musings beyond ‘WTF?’ every few minutes.
Not so with Japanese director Takashi Miike’s latest and 100th movie (yes, he clearly has a lot of stories to tell) ‘The Immortal Blade’ (2017), which if it was to truly represent the fun that’s on screen, it would just be a few pages of pen slash marks, with a couple of words buried underneath here and there, probably alternative titles such as ‘An Infinite Amount Of Enormous Weapons From Invisible Tiny Pockets’.
That in no way is a criticism mind, this is both a ridiculous and splendid fare. What it potentially lacks in depth, and to be honest why would you want much existentialism in a movie that is like an advertisement for the Best Chef’s Knife You’ll Ever Own. Oh! There’s a thing, see if it can be cut in half, then quartered and just minced. And repeat.
But there’s an inherent beauty and honesty in this simplicity, as there’s many layers of beauty in the movie itself.
Manji (Takuya Kimura) isn’t having such a great day. In the opening sequence (beautifully shot in black and white) the unfortunate but highly skilled samurai is doing his damndest to protect his sister from what is effectively an army of not so very nice blade and all sorts of cutty things wielding naughty types. Despite what can only be described as absolute bloody fucking carnage, his tenacity and seemingly godly ability to slice ‘n dice proves not enough.
Off the back of this somewhat unfortunate bonding day at the office, his down on his luck head roll across the dirt just gets worse when a passing old witch hag curses him with the ‘gift’ of immortality via some magic worms. And you thought you had it hard.
He aspires to go all hermit (definitely not vegan) and basically hide from well everything. That wouldn’t make for much of a movie though and his human blending services are required for the revenge of his new buddy Rin (Hana Sugisaki) whose parents were unsurprisingly brutally slain by the awesomely evil Anotsu (Sôta Fukushi).
And off they strut, following the corpse and blood strewn brick road to see the devilish sword wizard of death, and hopefully, begrudgingly hacking his way to redemption.
There’s not much more to say really, other than it’s nuts! Nuts in a fantastic way though. Utterly mental and bizarre world that you just sit back in awe of the phenomenal creativity that’s involved in inventing new ways to dispatch folk with a staggering array of cutty tools.
It is a tad long, but the sweeping balletic murder that is around every single corner keeps it pirouetting along nicely, it really is stunning fight choreography. The sets are fantastic, and the creative excellence soaks through and stains everything it splatters. And of course there’s just the gleeful comedic brutality of it, which really is second to none.
It’s not going to be for everyone, but like the best of cult movies, it’s not supposed to be. See it slash the silver screen, and then for thousands of viewings at home, it will lead to your own redemption.
8/10 ‘Blade Of The Immortal’ is out now.