“His Path of Vengeance is Paved in Blood.”
Mugen no jûnin 2017 (original title) AKA Blade of the Immoral, is an adaption of Hiroaki Samura’s bloodthirsty vampiric manga, and is pretty much a Greek tragedy. The manga originally came out in comic-book form in 1993 and is apparently, as IMDB states, Takashi Miike’S 100th movie. But with a bit of homework and research, Tom Mes, co-owner of the wonderful Midnight Eye website and all-around Japanese film historian, states that the film is in fact, Miike’s 101’th film. His hundredth film being a live blues-harmonica concert which pretty much equates to a live film.
Without spoiling the plot, it’s best to actually watch the film ‘going in blind’ and allowing a healthy dose of samurai endorphins to flow as with 13 Assassins (2010).
It certainly feels that Miike was refining his craft with 13 Assassins and that Blade of the Immortal has all the cues for the ultimate samurai, Ronin Pastiche.
When the blood spills it spills by the gallons…
The film follows Manji played by Takuya Kimura (Love and Honour 2006). Chronicling his struggles as an undead immortal shogun during the mid-Tokugawa Shogunate period. The film is also wonderfully graced with the ever so beautiful Erika Toda (Deathnote 2006), she plays Makie Otono-Tachibana, who literally steals the show in every scene she endures.
For fans of the fantasy vampire genre, I highly recommend this film as it is grounded in solidified realism, and follows none of the usual bog-standard dreamy troupes of the fantasy genre. Miike, as usual, refreshingly directs the story – always offering something new.
The film is splatterramic splatter, being the use of bloodworms, which also elevates the story. The choreography is pretty breathtaking and seems to echo moments of the very best of Hong Kong’s swordplay epics.
Hardcore Miike fans will notice how incredibly fine-tuned his storytelling has become, but one cannot help but feel his palette and brush strokes of stark swordplay have somehow reached new heights and peaks with Blade of Immortal. Fans of Miike will also notice his use of the black and white prologue at the beginning of the film that resonates a tribute to some of his earlier works.
Also, fans of the late great Akira Kurosawa will find breathtaking cinematography that resonates in a lot of Kurosawa samurai epics.
In time, Blade of the Immortal will stand out as a major swashbuckling splattertastic grind epic.
Interesting trivia quote to float genre fans:
- Manji is named after the symbol on his kimono in the original manga: the manji symbol being the Japanese Swastika symbolizing the cycle of life before it was bastardized by the Nazi regime. In the film, the symbol is changed so as not to offend. In the original manga, Manji has the symbol emblazoned on the earth of his kimono.
- Rin Asano: But do right and wrong matter when it’s for people you love?
- Manji: That’s “Big Brother,” stupid!
If you haven’t yet watched Blade of the Immortal, be sure to do so and add to your Takashi Miike collection preferably the UK arrow release with the wonderful Tom Mes commentary.