Sunday, 24 December 2017
GAZ'S BUDGET REVIEWS: BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL (ACTION/DRAMA)
I've tried avoiding major spoilers and mentioned enough to present the overall tone. Blade Of The Immortal is based on the Manga series by Hiroaki Samura. Director Takashi's Miike's live action version of Blade Of The Immortal is one of my favourite movie releases of 2017.
The costumes are fantastic and helped the film appear convincing, and spring to life before your eyes. I remember sitting in the cinema with my friend and saying to him;
'Probably a 20 min build up, then its all out man.'
Blade Of The Immortal must have heard me. No sooner had I said it, then we were taken straight into an action scene to open up the first act. The film flows perfectly, transitioning into plot points and story/character building before another action sequence takes place.
The cinematography is excellent, capturing the whole atmosphere and world of feudal Japan. The first scene is in black and white, serving as a flash back to the events that serve as the main arc with the protagonist Takuya Kimura. It works well and leaves the audience with no illusion that you are stepping into a very violent and brutal era of history.
The general plot revolves around Manji (Takuya Kimura) protecting Rin Asano (Hana Sugisaki) and helping her get revenge against Kagehisa Anotsu (Sota Fukushi) for killing her father, and attacking her family. He is a quite a solid villain, although not the most ruthless in appearance that I've seen with these movies. The character is excellently played and has interesting motivations and arcs behind his persona. He is the leader of the Ittō-Ryū clan who are wiping out rival dojos, so that they can become the dominant combat school and instruct the Shogun's troops. The Ittō-Ryū cares little for how they win, just as long as they win. An unconventional clan frowned upon by the more traditional and honourable dojos.
The acting in with Blade Of The immortal is incredibly solid, but Rin Asano (Hana Sugisaki) may at times make your ears hurt with her shouting and crying. Its only a minor issue and is bearable. The villains are quite comical in areas with one guy sporting an hilarious hair cut during the latter half of the movie. It reminded me of some of the Japanese wrestlers I've watched. There is one line of dialogue, which made me laugh out loud when the same guy said to an opponent that he could smell him and he reeked of poo! (words to that effect and I've put it politely lol).
Another great scene during Act 2 is when Manji and Rin are attacked by a female samurai named Makie Otono-Tachibana (Erika Toda). It starts with Manji and Rin walking through a village and passing a woman (Makie) dressed in a white robe playing a traditional guitar. The music matches the tension as it starts slow, then becoming a fast rhythm before she drops her robe and launchers herself at Manji. It is a great moment and choreographed scene.
The final act serves up a delicacy of samurai carnage, which has you shouting 'whoa', 'oh', and 'man this is insane'. Kagehisa (antagonist) is confronted by the Shogun's forces and becomes aware that his clan were annihilated. Faced with the prospect of having to invent the feudal version of the bullet train to escape on the spot, a large battle ensues. Manji and Rin are caught in the middle, and remember the scene in 13 Assassins at the end? It isn't quite on that scale, but it is indeed, extremely large.
It is a brutal stand off and confrontation to close the final act. But, don't gasp to soon, another engagement takes place between Manji and Kagehisa just to make sure you have definitely received your money's worth.
Blade of the Immortal is easily one of the best movies of 2017, but I do feel it will be overlooked by casual film fans. No arrogance is meant or implied, but I feel it is a sad state of affairs when a movie theatre is packed for Daddy's Home 2 and Blade of the Immortal has the same attendance I've seen when I go to watch some of my hc punk bands. Pop corn filler movies can be fun, but as stated earlier, we need the alternative choice, or ideas/genres become stale.
The positive though, Blade of the Immortal did get a Western release in movie theatres. Hopefully, it continues with future movies, so we can maintain a balance and wider choice.
I score Blade of the Immortal 9/10. Only because Takashi's Miike's previous movie 13 Assassins is the better of the two films. Blade of the Immortal is a worthy addition, and I'll definitely buy it when it is released on DVD. Be on the look out for the Ancient Visionz Best of 2017 lists. Blade of the Immortal shall be featured.