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Blade of the Immortal review – spectacular corpses and an undead samurai

Blade of the Immortal.
Bizarre, amoral ferocity … Blade of the Immortal. Photograph: Allstar/Warner Bros

At the age of 57, the staggeringly prolific Japanese film-maker and master of mayhem Takashi Miike now passes the 100 feature film mark with this expansive and surreally violent supernatural action movie; you could almost call it an undead samurai picaresque. It is based on Hiroaki Samura’s 30-volume manga, which ran for 20 years until 2012. Takuya Kimura plays Manji, a samurai cursed with immortality – “bloodworms” that magically heal any wound – who is asked by a young woman, Rin, to avenge the death of her father at the hands of the renegade ronin group, the Itto-ryu. Rin eerily resembles Machi, the disturbed figure whom Manji had witnessed being brutally butchered 50 years before: they are both played by Hana Sugisaki. Now, burdened by gallantry, honour and a sense of destiny, Manji must accept this mission: to confront and slay the ruthless killer, Anotsu Kagehisa (Sôta Fukushi). It has the bizarre amoral ferocity of a Sergio Leone picture, and the post-combat moments when the camera pulls back to reveal a landscape carpeted with corpses are startling. This is a little overlong and doesn’t have the emotional power of his 2011 film Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai. But what a spectacle.

Watch the trailer for Blade of the Immortal
This article titled "Blade of the Immortal review – spectacular corpses and an undead samurai" was written by Peter Bradshaw, for The Guardian on Thursday 7 December 2017 06.00am

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