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It stands to reason that there must be something pretty dastardly about the target of the assassination plot that makes up Takashi Miike's 13 Assassins; after all, an enormous amount of energy and planning goes into this effort. And hoo boy, have we got a dastardly villain for you: Japanese feudal lord Naritsugu (Goro Inagaki), the demented half-brother of the emperor. His taste for perversity results in a few early scenes that will test the gag reflex of unprepared viewers (and let fans of Miike know that the director of Audition still has his gonzo streak, even if the rest of the movie is conventional by his standards). Court councilors agree that somebody needs to take Naritsugu out, lest this madman actually ascend to power; thus a veteran samurai (Koji Yakusho, the charismatic star of Shall We Dance and Cure) is charged with assembling a team that can eliminate him. The movie spends some time on the (always sure-fire) method of picking the expert samurai who will join the mission, and then plunges headlong into an epic battle sequence. 13 Assassins delivers on the spectacle, as Naritsugu has 200 soldiers at his side, so the destruction of an entire small town is called for in the final throwdown. Miike is an adept field marshal, and the movie has plenty of crazy-go-nuts moments (as well as a couple of borderline-mystical puzzlers), but he also takes the time to explore the delicacies of the samurai code: in particular, Naritsugu's chief of security (Masachika Ichimura) is as disgusted with his boss as anybody else, but must live according to the oath he swore when he took the job--an exquisite sort of self-debasement. In short, action connoisseurs will find little to fault in this big-scale samurai epic. --Robert Horton
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In "Seven Samurai", the titular characters defend a helpless village against a band of marauding bandits (clearly criminals by anyone's standards). In "13 Assassins", a crack team of swordsmen is assembled to take down the Shogun's sadistic half-brother, whose continued existence threatens to destabilize the hard-earned peace of the nation (although he's not, officially, a criminal). Where "Seven Samurai" elaborates a bit more on the motivations of the protagonists, as well as how they earn the trust of the villagers they agree to protect, "13 Assassins" instead focuses on how the team is built up and how they justify dishonouring themselves by daring to challenge the authority of the Shogun's half-brother, who is a powerful, albeit reprehensible, man commanding of respect and deference.
Then there's the unrelenting, all-out fracas and blood-soaked climax and conclusion of "13 Assassins", which is in contrast to the bit-by-bit, guerilla-warfare style battle fought by the "Seven Samurai".
Has this story been told before? In a general way, perhaps. Nonetheless, Miike lends his uncompromising style to it, but thankfully not to the extent of his more cringe-worthy films. I have to say, the sword-fighting isn't spectacular. The acting is convincing, though, and the plot, themes, and messages don't go over one's head.Read more ›
Indie movies like this, really show the vision and mind of a director to tell a brilliant story historically based in a rich culture.
Most recent customer reviews
Superb remake of a classic. Beautiful cinematography and costumes.Published 2 months ago by Toronto Dude
Modern cinema meets traditional samurai storyline. While it is not Kurosawa it still impresses as an epic action tale about the honor and bravery of the samurai.Published on Nov. 12 2013 by darien golami
Always wanted to get this movie as part of my collection and now on Blu-ray it just makes it better. So clear and crisp. No complaints whatsoever.Published on Sept. 4 2013 by David L
Movie was slow at times but overall good, had some emotional moments and showed a very well done disturbed/ psychotic yet weak antagonist. Read morePublished on July 25 2013 by HanJohn