Plot: Manji (Takuya Kimura) was once branded an outlaw and drove his own sister mad when he killed her husband, but he protected her until the end. A massive crew of thugs killed her in a battle meant to capture Manji, but he fought off the entire gang and killed one hundred in the process. The fight took an immense toll on Manji, as his hand was severed, one eye was blinded, and he was soaked in blood, but a mystical woman arrived and cursed him to immortal life. Now his body is filled with sacred bloodworms, which heal most any kind of injuries, including allowing Manji to regenerate his severed hand, though he still bears the scars. Decades later, he is hired to protect Rin (Hana Sugisaki), a young woman who watched her family get slaughtered and wants vengeance. She reminds Manji of his late sister, so he accepts and they begin to hunt down the men responsible for the deaths. He has killed countless men, but Manji is tired and worn down, though determined to look after Rin. But can even Manji take down an entire clan of elite swordsmen?
Entertainment Value: Blade of the Immortal is the 100th movie from Takashi Miike, who proves he still has the chops to dazzle audiences, even this deep into a prolific career. The movie runs about two and a half hours, so it does slow at times, but it never feels dull, thanks to an interesting narrative and wild, kinetic action sequences. The fight scenes are epic and an absolute blast to watch, especially given Manji’s ability to shake off even otherwise fatal damage. You can tell this was based on a manga, as we see Manji take on hundreds of enemies at once, in sprawling, blood soaked showdowns. Even in these big set piece battles, the pace remains brisk and Miike delivers visceral, sharp combat. The fights are of course over the top, but that is kind of the point here, so just embrace the madness and enjoy the ride. Takuya Kimura is great in the lead, able to show a vulnerable side even as an immortal, as well as being more grounded than the usual action heroes. He is not the best swordsman in the world and he knows that, which makes the fight scenes more dynamic. Hana Sugisaki is quite good as well, playing her role as if she just stepped out of a manga, which means she is often loud and over the top, but very fun to watch. The two encounter a host of colorful characters along the way as well. The movie does run a little long, but it is consistently fun and never fails to keep the audience entertained. I had a blast with Blade of the Immortal, so this one earns a high, high recommendation.
No nakedness. Manji is a fighter, not a lover and that means he doesn’t have time to diddle the ladies. But on the blood scale, this movie ensures the battles provide a good deal of the red stuff. Some CGI is present, but there also seem to be a lot of practical effects, which is great news. As Manji is capable to withstanding immense damage, the movie runs with that and puts him through a literal metric ton of punishment. He is run through, slashed, has limbs sliced off, and is essentially just constantly abused, all shown in vivid, splashy fashion. Of course, he also dishes out the violence and spares no wear on his blade in the process. The bloodshed is heavy and frequent, as you’d expect from a Miike movie about a samurai who battles hundreds of foes at once. The dialogue is great here too, with most of the best lines happening when Manji and Rin banter while on the road. The bond between the two is what drives the movie, so it is nice to see the calmer moments and bursts of humor. A lot of the characters they encounter are also quite colorful, which leads to memorable exchanges. The movie might be fueled by blood, but make no mistake, it is also well written and gives us characters we can connect with and care about. On the craziness side, we have a virtually unkillable samurai engaged in comic book style epic brawls, colorful dialogue and characters, and an overall feel of unpredictability. So this one has some wackiness, but Miike keeps it reeled in at times, so as not to delve into camp, which I think was a wise choice.
Overall Insanity: 5/10