BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL (MUGIN NO JUNIN)
(director/writer: Takashi Miike; screenwriters: Tetsuya Oishi/Hiroaki Samura; cinematographer: Nobuyasu Kita; editor: Kenji Yamashita; music: Kôji Endô; cast: Takuya Kimura (Manji), Hana Sugisaki(Rin Asano/Machi, Manji’s sister), Sôta Fukushi (Anotsu Kagehisa), Hayato Ichihara (Shira), Erika Toda (Makie Otono-Tachibana); Runtime: 140; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Misako Saka/Jeremy Thomas/Shigeji Maeda; Magnolia Pictures; 2017-Japan-in Japanese with English subtitles)
“A bloated and messy supernatural action pic.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A bloated and messy supernatural action pic. It’s based on Hiroaki Samura’s manga from 1993-2012 about the samurai swashbuckler “Blade of the Immortal.” The over-the-top action director Takashi Miike (“13 Assassins”/”Shield of Straw”), in his 100th film, co-writes it with Tetsuya Oishi.In ancient times, the middle-aged Takuya Kimura stars as Manji, the unkillable title hero, who is noted for killing 100 men in a sword fight. Kimura sneers away as a Toshiro Mifune action figure, delivering a fine performance despite the physicality of the role taxing the aging star. The swordsman frets that he couldn’t stop the death of his beloved sister Machi (Hana Sugisaki), as the injured fighter after his epic sword fight with 100 foes is healed by a 800-year-old nun (Yoko Yamamoto). The problem is her cure makes him immortal, but comes with a curse. Moving ahead 50 years later, the teenage girl, Rin (Sugisaki again), watches in horror as her sword-master father is cut down and his dojo destroyed one night by the feared and ambitious dandy swordsman Kagehisa Anotsu (Sota Fukushi) and his men. The unscrupulous Anotsu strives to unite all sword-fighting schools under his command, with only a survival of the fittest outcome.
The revenge seeking Rin is advised by the nun to ask Manji to be her yojinbo (hired assassin). Manji reluctantly agrees when he pictures Rin like his sister.
Though the plot is simple, the subplots are many and keep things unnecessarily cloudy. I didn’t find it to be an enjoyable watch as much as a head scratching experience of too much similar styled sword fights.
REVIEWED ON 11/15/2017 GRADE: B-