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Review: Blade of the Immortal merely goes through the motions

Takuya Kimura stars in Blade of the Immortal.

2.5 out of 4 stars

Blade of the Immortal
Written by
Tetsuya Oishi
Directed by
Takashi Miike
Takuya Kimura, Hana Sugisaki

Quickly, how many movies could you name off the top of your head? Maybe it would top out at 100, for the casual moviegoer. Well, Takashi Miike could beat you there – and he'd only have to list the films he's directed.

For his 100th feature, Blade of the Immortal, the Japanese master mixes two elements that have become the touchstones of his ultra-prolific career: bloodshed and vengeance. The lengthy film, adapted from the long-running manga, follows a Shogunate-era samuari warrior (Takuya Kimura) seeking to reclaim his soul after being cursed with immortality.

It is an entertainingly cheesy narrative, but overly comfortable for someone such as Miike, whose gonzo talents seem somehow muted here. Swords are drawn, guts are spilled, and so forth, but it feels as if the man who made the all-timers Ichi the Killer and Dead or Alive 2: Birds is merely going through the motions. It could be that the film is half an hour too long or that Kimura doesn't possess the natural charisma of Miike's past collaborators such as Riki Takeuchi. Or maybe, just maybe, 100 films in, Miike may want to take a break – if only for a minute.

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