Blade of the Immortal at HOME

Tom Grieve, Cinema Editor
Blade of the Immortal
Image courtesy of HOME

Blade of the Immortal at HOME Manchester, Manchester 8 — 20 December 2017 Tickets from £5.00

The films of Japanese director Takeshi Miike have never been for the faint hearted. From his early Yakuza flicks, to iconic horror movies like Audition and Ichi the Killer, through to action fare like the slash-em-up 13 Assassins, squelchy blood and gore, and unsettling violence have always been part of the deal. Fans know what they are getting themselves into, and with Blade of the Immortal  – his 100th film – the prolific filmmaker delivers in spades.

We open in black and white, as Manji, a skilled samurai, who, after killing his corrupt lord and bodyguards, is forced to flee with his sister. A run-in with bounty hunters proves deadly for Manji’s young sister, but sees the samurai despatch a hundred foes – a feat that so impresses an onlooking 800-year-old-nun that she grants him the curse of immortality by implanting sacred, rejuvenating bloodworms into his body. This pulpy premise, taken from an eponymous manga series by Hiroaki Samura, sets us up for two hours of swordplay, dismemberment and general bloody carnage.

From the impressively staged prelude, Miike fast-forwards fifty years and adds some colour. Manji is now a weary, wandering immortal but the myriad injuries inflicted on him have dented his ability with a sword – sacred bloodworms can only do so much apparently. Meanwhile, a new, ruthless school of samurai, known as the Ittō-ryū have ravaged the lands, leaving a trail of death and destruction in their wake. Perhaps predictably, Manji finds himself drawn into the conflict – and gains a shot at redemption – when he encounters a young girl seeking vengeance following the brutal deaths of her family at the hands of the newly minted samurai school.

From there, Miike structures the thing like a video game, with increasingly difficult waves of opponents and various Ittō-ryū bosses for Manji to dispatch. Some viewers might find Blade of the Immortal‘s bloodletting repetitive – especially given the distinct lack of peril that arises from our hero’s immortality – but genre-junkies will get off on the inventive choreography and gracefully lurid violence. Amongst the rivers of red stuff, Miike takes his outlandish premise just seriously enough to make a urgent point about the ways in which violence inevitably begets more violence. Just look at his career: one hundred films in and the body count is higher than ever.

Blade of the Immortal at HOME Manchester, Manchester 8 — 20 December 2017 Tickets from £5.00

What's on at HOME Manchester

Where to go near Blade of the Immortal at HOME

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Indian Tiffin Room is a restaurant specialising in Indian street food, with branches in Cheadle and Manchester. This is the information for the Manchester venue.

The Ritz Manchester live music venue
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The Ritz

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Homeground is HOME’s brand new outdoor venue, providing an open-air space for theatre, food, film, music, comedy and more.

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Small but perfectly-formed café – which also serves as the in-house bookstore, stocking all manner of Burgess-related works, along with recordings of his music. It’s a welcoming space, with huge glass windows making for a bright, welcoming atmosphere.

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Rain Bar

This huge three-floor pub, formerly a Victorian warehouse, then an umbrella factory (hence the name), has one of the city centre’s largest beer gardens. The two-tier terrace overlooks the Rochdale canal and what used to be the back of the Hacienda, providing an unusual, historic view of the city.

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The Briton’s Protection

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