‘Blade of the Immortal’ is a Japanese language, samurai film based on the manga series of the same name. The film follows an immortal samurai, Manji, who is asked by a young girl, Rin, to help her avenge the deaths of her parents. Other than this short synopsis I was completely in the dark with this film and I imagine many casual film fans might be the same. Anyway I’m more than open to the idea of something completely fresh to my cinematic mind and thought that it at least had the bare bones of an entertaining story so decided it was worth a punt!
The narrative for the film has a very episodic feel to it, no doubt due to the manga it’s based on. There are a range of supporting characters that our main protagonists encounter and each new meeting feels very defined. This could have easily worked as a TV series rather than a film, but that’s not to say that this doesn’t work for the picture. It is effective here thanks to the intriguing personalities of these supporting characters and the shorter stories that they all tell. These encounters aren’t simply there to facilitate action or to fill time they are thought out and showcase how interesting the characters in this film are. Furthermore, this is even before I’ve addressed the main characters; Manji & Rin. Both of these characters are portrayed well by Takuya Kimura & Hana Sugisaki, respectively. However, it was the writing that offered the real engagement as we watch the characters develop interestingly over the running time.
Characters and narrative aside, being a samurai film the expectation for high quality action was most definitely in place and ‘Blade of the Immortal’ did not disappoint. Not only is the action executed to an impressive standard but there is plenty of it included over the two hours plus run time. It has precision, pace and power but at times it is allowed to run on just slightly longer than nessecary which for a brief few moments might cause audiences to experience a little monotony. Despite this it’s still wonderfully choreographed and has ambitious scale which can always be appreciated.
This film adaptation should serve as a great introduction to the manga series for newcomers and will certainly wet their appetite for more. The premise is cool, the action is fierce and maybe most importantly it’s engaging to watch these characters. It’s one of the most fun foreign films of the year and with a wider release than maybe expected it’s well worth seeking out!
Written by Hamish Calvert
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