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The new Blade of the Immortal live-action movie is chock full of bloody samurai violence.
Based on 2008 anime and manga by Hiroaki Samura, the Blade of the Immortal movie follows the young girl Rin Asano on her quest to avenge the death of her parents. But, because Rin lacks the sword skills to vanquish her quarry, so she employees the help of a mysterious samurai named Manji to help her complete her task.
At its core, Blade of the Immortal is an entertaining slasher movie where we know who the slasher is and what they want to accomplish. This makes the movie very beautiful in its simplicity because it’s a cathartic experience watching the people who wronged Rin meet their maker at the hands of Manji. And it’s not as though the deaths are quick and painless either, as all the deaths in the movie occur after long, hard fought, and bloody battle.
This is where the movie’s strongest suit lies: its bloody nature. The movie is unabashed in how much blood is spewed out of the characters, but more importantly, addresses how merciless Manji is and the deadliness of his fights. In fact, the second action scene in Blade of the Immortal set the right tone of violence for the rest of the movie by having Manji hack his way through a near endless mob of thugs, all while being stabbed and hacked at or having arrows shot into him. While a majority of the fights in the movie are one-on-one, they all have the same intense nature to them.
The real strength of the movie lies in how the action scenes didn’t rely heavily on CGI effects or wire action. This means all the fights were well choreographed and shot and, more significantly, kept the story grounded in realism. So, there are no characters jumping off platforms in fantastical ways, no super-special maneuvers, and no yelling the name of a finishing move. This keeps Blade of the Immortal from falling in to the absurdist pit trap some live action anime movies fall into. As such, we are seamlessly taken into the world of the movie without ever feeling the veil between reality and fiction torn from us.
It was the first fifteen or so minutes of the film that stole the entire show, though. While it is deliciously violent, the black and white cinematic style invokes a feeling of watching a movie by famed Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. But, more notably, it heightens the bloody nature of the movies story in a surrealistic way. Thus the shadows feel darker, the light more vibrant, the blood has a deeper hue, and the weapons all glistened compared to the film in color.
Blade of the Immortal is a great samurai action flick, heavy on the blood and violence, especially with the revenge story. This made the movie feel more like a slasher film, but one where we wanted to root for the slasher. That’s where the strength of the movie could be found as well: the cathartic experience of watching not so nice people being killed by Manji. But, when it came to stellar cinematic style, it was all in the first fifteen minutes. The black and white style emphasized the visuals of the movie and made each shot come to life more than the color scenes later in the movie. Put all this together and Blade of the Immortal is definitely a movie worth watching.
Blade of the Immortal premiered in Japan on April 29, 2017. No international release date has been announced.
The Blade of the Immortal anime series is not currently being streamed.