Blade of the Immortal tells the story of Manji (Takuya Kimura), an immortal samurai hired by a teenager named Asano Rin (Hana Sugisaki) to become her bodyguard and avenge her parents' death at the hands of Kagehisa Anotsu (Soto Fukushi) and the Itto-ryu. Soon, they find out that they're not the only ones in search of the Itto-ryu, and finish off their rivals until they finally meet Anotsu. The film is a live-action adaptation of the manga by Hiroaki Samura and anime by Koichi Mashimo and was released in November 2017.
Prolific director Takashi Miike does not disappoint with his 100th film. Set in the Edo period, the film features loads of heart-stopping action scenes, spectacular cinematography, rich production and costume design, powerful acting as well as a riveting musical score. Miike's signature graphic grandiosity was evident in every swordfighting scene, but some just managed to really stand out. Here are the five best swordfighting scenes from the movie.
WARNING: Spoilers & light violence ahead!
1. The First Battle
Angered by a close family member's violent death, Manji decides to take down a large group of ronin responsible for the ruthless act. He takes down every one of them, including their arrogant leader. It's a jaw-dropping display of skill, raw emotion, and agility, making it one of the most memorable swordfighting scenes in modern cinema. Watching the scene unfold in black-and-white made it all the more special.
The face-off between Manji and Taito Magatsu (Shinnosuke Mitshushima) is a swordfighting class act sprinkled with a lot of wit. It’s the kind of swordfighting scene that appeals to commercial crowds as well as movie critics. Magatsu was clearly no match for Manji, but his approach to the fight and dealing with the enemy was pretty remarkable. Magatsu survives but is left traumatized by Manji's healing powers.
3. The Geisha Warrior
Manji's encounter with Kagehisa's loyal swordswoman Maki Otonotachibana (Erika Toda) was one of the best parts of the film. This is the first time we see Manji attach his two swords together to create a beautiful and terrifyingly efficient weapon. Even greater were the moments when Maki was able to block Manji's double-edged sword, and when she caused his body great damage. The other good part about this scene was Rin's confrontation with Maki. For a period film, it was able to portray women very dynamically.
4. Anotsu vs. the Banshu Samurai
With the Itto-ryu wrecking havoc in every dojo, it was natural for the Banshu shogunate to play tricks on Anotsu in order to confront him. Anotsu confronts the shogun warriors impressively in a scene that is mildly reminiscent of Manji's ronin takedown. What sets them apart are their intentions. While Manji acted out of anger and love, Anotsu fought because of fear.
5. The Free-for-All
With Rin caught up between Anotsu and the Banshu samurai, Manji rushes to the scene to save her. However, this angers Kagimura Habaki (Tanaka Min), the shogun samurai leader and architect of the Itto-ryu’s downfall. Habaki then orders the samurai to attack not just Anotsu, but Manji and Rin as well. The result is a free-for-all fight where Manji skillfully takes down each samurai despite his weakening state and Anotsu displays his slick swordfighting skills. Maki joins in the fun and is impressive throughout, but meets her unfortunate demise due to the dishonorable use of guns against her and Anotsu. After hours of relentless fighting, only Manji, Rin, and Anotsu are left alive.
But it doesn't end there. Manji and Anotsu engage in the film's grittiest and most elegant fight, showing the contrast between Manji's wild and passionate approach and Anotsu's refined skills. It is also during this sequence when Rin's unexpected but dramatic and powerful takedown of Anotsu occurs.
This concludes the list of my favorite swordfighting scenes from Blade of the Immortal.
Which scenes did you enjoy the most? Can you think of memorable swordfighting scenes from other movies?
Let us know in the comments below!