Blood, swords, fights and samurai, the movie Blade of the Immortal has it all. This movie from 2017 is based on the eponymous manga series created by Hiroaki Samura and had its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival 2017, after which Warner Bros showed the movie in theatres. Blade of the Immortal is about an immortal man who, along with a young girl, takes revenge on the people who killed her parents. This movie has received several good reviews worldwide, a view that is not supported by this review.
The movie begins with Manji, a samurai who has killed his boss and bodyguards, from who he is now fleeing. At the beginning of the movie, he is with his beserk sister, Machi. Because Manji has a bounty on his head a group of unguided samurai comes to collect it. They first murdered his sister Machi, causing Manji to murder the entire group of samurai and almost die of his injuries afterwards. However, that honour is not granted to him by an 800-year-old nun, who makes Manji immortal by placing blood worms inside of him.
50 years later is Manji living in a secluded village, where he gets a visit from a girl whose family has been murdered. That girl, named Rin, looks remarkably like his sister, so he decides to train her and help her avenge her family. This brings them on a quest to find the members of the samurai group Ittō-ryū, the ones responsible for the death of Rin’s family.
Blade of the Immortal has some good aspects, but also bad ones. Starting at the first good aspect is the quality of the cinematic means. The footage is high quality and they use clear camera perspectives. The music used also supports the shown footage very well, causing spectators to feel more excitement. Also, the use of black and white footage at the beginning of the movie and the use of colour footage after the time jump is useful for a differentiation of time; the black and white footage is from 50 years earlier than the colour footage. Lastly, the mise-en-scène of the movie is very beautiful and the culture of the samurai and a bit of Japan is also shown in this movie.
The next good aspect is the casting of Manji and Rin. Manji is played in Blade of the Immortal by Takuya Kimura, a famous actor in Japan who was featured in a lot of movies, of which this movie is his hundredth movie in which he acted. His acting in this movie is credible and he conveys emotions in an immersive way to the viewers. The casting of Rin is also well done. Rin is played by Hana Sugisaki, a 20-year-old woman who has been active in the acting business since childhood. Her good acting skills are also seen in Blade of the Immortal and she certainly does not disappoint.
As mentioned before, there are also bad aspects about Blade of the Immortal. The first bad aspect is the incoherent storyline. The scenes are very heeled on the branch and this movie doesn’t give the impression of a smooth sequence of scenes making a whole movie. This makes the viewers feel less involved with the movie, because they are drawn away from the fictive world of the movie.
The second bad aspect is the unclear motives. Manji goes to help Rin, because she looks like his deceased sister, but there is that feeling as if Manji does not have a character to only help someone because of that. The revenge-motive of Rin is also unclear. It comes across as if she’s making a hasty, impulsive decision that is not very well argued for in the movie. However, this may have occurred because the movie is not smooth and it was perhaps considered as unimportant.
Finally, there is a predominantly good and bad aspect, namely the concept of the movie; a loner is motivated to work together with a companion to seek revenge. This concept works very well if there is enough character development in a movie, something that didn’t clearly emerge in Blade of the Immortal.
In short, Blade of the Immortal has its good and bad aspects and it lies in the hands of an individual where he/she pays more attention to. As a whole is Blade of the Immortal an entertaining movie, especially if you’re looking for action. However, if you’re going to watch the individual aspects of the movie, there are some unnecessary mistakes that make the viewing experience less fun. Yet I still recommend this movie, because the cinematic means are well executed and the story is still followable, even though it is not so coherent.
Date of release: 29 April 2017
Director: Takashi Miike