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4.1 out of 5 stars
13 Assassins
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Some other reviewers have pointed out the similarities between this film, by envelope-pushing (and occasionally stomach-churning) director Takashi Miike, and legendary Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai". Indeed, both films tell the story of a group of honourable warriors who take up their swords against an evil force. That being said, there are a few differences.

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. The ensemble of characters is charming as well, from the leader of the samurai with his sheer willpower and unwavering courage, to his ne'er-do-well nephew who decides to join when womanizing and gambling fail to bring the satisfaction they once did, to the outsider from the hill country who spurns the stuffiness of samurai and prefers to use a sling and a coconut instead of a katana.

There's no such thing as a perfect movie, but "13 Assassins" has all the elements of a superlative film. It suffers only a little bit from being a tad too long and drawn-out in places. Well worth the rental or purchase.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 6, 2012
Another excellent movie to add to Miike legendary line-up, not his absolute best of course but a must own for every samurai fans. the whole story of a group of rogue samurai who choose to make a spoiled - bored and cruel shogun's brother pay for his deeds and save the fragile peace of their land unfolds in classic Miike fashion, so once one of the protagonist dies the switch from hope to desperation is masterfully depicted and the awe inspiring end scene that lasts an amazing 55 minutes (basically half of the movie) shows each samurai or <ally> (you will understand when you see) giving their whole being to achieve their mission against impossible odds. The cinematography and photography are breathtaking by moment and the actors are solid, you really feel for them and want them to succeed. I was so into the movie that it was like I could feel each stab they received. As mentioned by Miike in his interview it is not an action movie but a drama and you can clearly say that it is true in a sense after watching the whole movie and if you compare it to the classics samurai action flicks like lone wolf and cub for example. So bottom-line, a must watch for fans of the genre but definitely not for everyone, some scene are made to disgust you in classic Miike fashion, you have been warned.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2014
Very good samurai movie with a good story and a lot of action. The final fight is incredibly good. I stongly recommend it if you like samurai movies.
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on July 5, 2015
Movies like this do not grow on trees. This is easily comparable to the Seven Samurai only with better film credits. That was the one disadvantage of the Seven Samurai was that it was filmed in black and white.
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on October 26, 2014
Good film. The first copy sent was not viewable (This is not acceptable in this day and age. How difficult is it to mass produce blu-ray disc?
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on August 2, 2015
If you like classic samurai, plus modern action, this is a great combination of the two. Love this movie!!
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on October 3, 2014
Not a classic but certainly of the best samurai movie in recent years.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2011
13 assassins is a beautiful, well paced and played action epic that clearly aims at more traditional styles of film making dating from the Kurosawa days, it's something that just feel much more tangible then many of the live action anime inspired action films of late.

The actors are there for their ability to perform and the costumes for delivering a taste of authenticity. Not just pretty faces with layers of CGI retouches.

The only thing that keep this film from being a true five star is how it feel like it's only paying homage to past films. You can't escape the feeling of not only deja-vue but of bringing really nothing new at all.

This doesn't make the film bad, it just makes it predictable and feel a little fulfilling if you were expecting something that would bring new life beyond what Seven Samurai already did.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2013
Movie was slow at times but overall good, had some emotional moments and showed a very well done disturbed/ psychotic yet weak antagonist. Pretty boring that all the samurai were generally the same in fighting styles, ok ending. I would recommend it to anyone who likes slow paced old westerns but with a Japanese theme and setting. Worth a watch.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2013
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.
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