Blade of the Immortal (M18)
Starring Takuya Kimura, Hana Sugisaki, Sota Fukushi
Directed by Takashi Miike
This is the most bonkers movie I’ve seen this week and it isn’t showing in a cineplex near you — it’s on Netflix, where it premiered with little fanfare. (Then again, that’s how the streaming giant rolls — it loves to pull a Beyoncé.)
The manga-based Blade of the Immortal is the 100th movie by prolific maverick Japanese auteur Takashi Miike (Audition, Ichii the Killer, The Happiness of the Katakuris), and stars Takuya Kimura as Manji, a disgraced ex-samurai who’s cursed to live forever by a mysterious nun. His redemption arrives in the form of Rin, a young girl (Hana Sugisaki) seeking vengeance on a warlord (Sota Fukushi) who murdered her parents.
Did I forget to mention that Rin looks exactly like Manji’s dead sister? Acting as Rin’s bodyguard and sensei, Machi helps track down her enemies.
The outcome is a bittersweet Leon-meets-Logan revenge-ture, but with a higher body count, where the unkillable warrior (with regenerative limbs) clashes with an army of colourful and bat-poop crazy henchmen — and henchwomen — in a series of blade-offs that are as messy and brutal as they are mesmerising and breathtaking.
Pay attention to a running gag (or is it?): no matter how bloodied and torn his kimono is after each fight, Machi is wearing a fresh one the next day. Does he carry a spare set? Or is it the self-cleaning magical kind? Go figure. In Japanese with English and Chinese subtitles. (***1/2)