/slash 2017 – Day 2: Mugen no jûnin (Blade of the Immortal)

Japan 2017
Written by Tetsuya Oishi, based on the manga by Hiroaki Samura
Directed by Takashi Miike
Watched on 22.09.2017

I usually get sick during or at least directly after the /slash filmfestival, but this year I actually managed to catch a cold on the very first day of the festival. Yay for me?! Anyway, because of this, I was already rather tired and worn out when I came to the theater, and the 140-minute-running time of this one didn’t exactly fill me with confidence. I expected having to fight to stay awake – and it’s a testament to how entertaining the movie is that I was at risk of falling asleep even once.

Granted, it’s not perfect. It definitely is too long. The fighting scenes follow the usual model of superior numbers attacking in short groups which are easily defeatable by the hero. The bald caps were extremely obvious. And I would have preferred if Rin would have played a far more active role in the proceedings, instead of pretty much staying the damsel in distress right until the end. And it really irritated me that over the course of the movie, they try to de-villain the main bad guy and show him as honorable warrior – which didn’t really work for me since at the beginning, he allowed his disciples to rape Rin’s mother (something the movie seemingly wants us to forget), which is as dishonorable an act as it gets. Apart from that, though, “Blade of the Immortal” was quite entertaining. At the beginning, I worried that the fights would turn out to be dull, since after the first huge fight, Manji becomes immortal. Which could have made the rest of the fight scenes really dull. However, they then find a way to make him vulnerable again after all, which definitely was the right approach. The fight scenes itself were nicely staged and well shot (even though I’ve seen better). They also tried their best to make them vary, with the use of different fighting styles, weapons etc. And since I like sword fights, I didn’t mind that it mostly was one such fight scene after the next. It’s definitely not the best, let alone most sophisticated, samurai-film that I’ve ever seen, but for what it wants to be – a fun, entertaining romp – it works quite well.


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