Almost a week in, my “A Movie A Day” quest is still alive and kicking, and I’ve decided to devote an entire column to this lifelong mission. I’ll be giving weekly updates on my progress and also lead with my favorite film of that given period. First up, Blade of the Immortal!!!
As a self-professed movie buff, it’s embarrassing to admit how much of a blind spot I have regarding certain genres and filmmakers. This can be applied to director Takashi Miike, as Blade of the Immortal is my first Miike experience. Whether or not you’re a fan of the filmmaker or a total newbie, Blade of the Immortal is a must see on the big screen.
The narrative centers on Manji (Takuya Kimura), a samurai who is cursed with immortality after a mysterious woman infects his body with bloodworms. Venturing through the world and haunted by his sister’s savage death, Manji wanders the world craving to meet the Grim Reaper. When a young girl named Rin (Hana Sugisaki, who also plays the sister) asks Manji to dispatch of an ax-wielding warrior (Sota Fukushi) after his crew murders her parents, Manji reluctantly takes the job.
Running at 140 minutes, Blade of the Immortal could have been a sword slashing hack-a-thon and still be a more than worthy watch. While these scenes make for an entertaining (and at times epic) watch, the heart of Blade of the Immortal lies in its immersive story. The story of retribution, mixed with the coming of age story of Rin, is handled in a refreshingly unexpected fashion. There are no real antagonists and protagonists in Blade of the Immortal, as survival and honor take precedence over such black and white labels. The final act, which features a battle to end battles, is an adrenalized, visceral experience that’s also grounded in thematic resonance.
Here’s a list of the movies I checked out on my first week of doing A Movie Day (ratings are on a 5 star system):
- Saturday, October 28: My Friend Dahmer (4 stars) & Sweet Virginia (4.5 stars) – Ross Lynch is absolutely astonishing as a young Jeffrey Dahmer and delivers one of this year’s best performances. This flick also opens in select theaters today. Sweet Virginia comes out November 17th, and it’s a 1st rate noir thriller starring Jon Bernthal and Christopher Abbott.
- Sunday, October 29: Blade of the Immortal (4.5 stars)
- Monday, October 30: Where’s The Money (3.5 Stars) – I reviewed this on Deepest Dream – film actually surprised me! Thought it was going to stink.
- Tuesday, October 31: Almost Friends (4 stars) – Solid coming of age drama starring Freddie Highmore and Odeya Rush.
- Wednesday, November 1: My Darling Clementine (5 stars) – I mistakenly thought this was a minor John Ford Western. Henry Fonda is great as Wyatt Earp, but the biggest takeaway is Victor Mature’s tortured performance as Doc Holliday. It’s also a very unsentimental film from Ford, much like The Searchers. A must see!!
- Thursday, November 2: Blood Alley (2 stars) – The only reason to see this flick is if you’re a John Wayne and Lauren Bacall completist. I love both actors, so this wasn’t a waste of time for me, but overall it’s an uninspired adventure flick that’s mainly forgettable. And at an unnecessary 114 minutes, I almost nodded off a couple of times while watching this flick.
Ratings Note: There will be times I’ll give movies a sub-par rating, but the great thing about any form of art is that most of the time one can get something value added in the process. For example, I may not have liked Blood Alley, but it wasn’t a wasted experience. In the film’s opening sequence, we are introduced to Capt. Tom Wilder (John Wayne), an American merchant who’s freed from a Communist jail for unknown reasons. Wilder’s form of self-survival was to create an imaginary friend named Baby to converse with during his imprisonment for the sake of his sanity. It’s a great device that was used to much more popular effect in Cast Away (via Wilson).
Since I’m a sunny side of the street kind of guy, I’ll always try to find something positive in every movie I check out, and the funny thing is I’ve devoted more space in this column to a movie that I didn’t love over My Friend Dahmer or Sweet Virginia.
***That being said, I cover Sweet Virginia, My Friend Dahmer and Blade of the Immortal on this month’s episode of CinemAddicts. Take a listen below and feel free to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. Thanks again for the support!!