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Jûsan-nin no shikaku (1963)

Not Rated | | Adventure, Action | 7 December 1963 (Japan)
A sadistic Daimyo (feudal lord) rapes a woman and murders both her and her husband, but even when one of his own vassals commits suicide to bring attention to the crime, the matter is ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Takayuki Akutagawa ...
Narrator
Chiezo Kataoka ...
Kôtarô Satomi ...
Ryôhei Uchida ...
Tetsurô Tanba
Satomi Oka
Yuriko Mishima
Sumiko Fuji ...
Kayo (as Junko Fuji)
Chôichirô Kawarasaki
Michitarô Mizushima
Kunio Kaga
Seishiro Sawamura
Kusuo Abe
Shingo Yamashiro ...
Kôshirô Harada
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Storyline

A sadistic Daimyo (feudal lord) rapes a woman and murders both her and her husband, but even when one of his own vassals commits suicide to bring attention to the crime, the matter is quickly hushed up. Not only will there be no punishment, but because the Daimyo is the Shogun's younger brother, he will soon be appointed to a high political position from which he could wreak even more havoc. Convinced that the fate of the Shogunate hangs in the balance, a plot is hatched to assassinate the Daimyo. The two most brilliant strategic minds of their generation find themselves pitted against each other; one is tasked to defend a man he despises, and has a small army at his disposal. The other is given a suicide mission, and has 12 brave men. They are the 13 Assassins. Written by Anonymous

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Adventure | Action

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

7 December 1963 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

13 Assassins  »

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2.35 : 1
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Referenced in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #1.15 (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Samurai assassins
23 June 2008 | by (Greece) – See all my reviews

The story of Thirteen Assassins begins with a vassal of the Akashi clan committing seppuku in front of a daimyo's house. As it turns out, it's in protest to his lord raping and killing a girl and her samurai husband. This scandal is quickly covered up as the Akashi lord happens to be the Shogun's younger brother. What makes matters worse is that this reckless scoundrel will be soon appointed to a higher political position which could prove to be detrimental for the entire Shogunate. In response to that, a plot is hatched: 13 assassins will undertake the suicide mission to murder him on his way back from Edo.

The movie can be roughly split in two parts. The first hour is purely character-driven, in a anti-establishment style that resembles Masaki Kobayashi and his masterful work in Seppuku and Samurai Rebellion. The last half hour is totally action-oriented as we see the Akashi clan entourage being trapped in a village and fighting to protect their lord, at which point the film channels heavily the corresponding part of Seven Samurai.

Very good, obscure, jidai-geki from the 60's done in stark monochrome, the genre's proper palette. Kudo is a moderate talent who draws heavily from the tradition of filmmaking he belongs to, but competently executes his material.

We find here familiar jidai-geki themes; oppression of the weak by those in authority, old friends that have to face off, a vassal that sees how villainous his lord is yet he doesn't hesitate to sacrifice his life for him. It's not quite as elaborate and tragic as Kobayashi's work and is pretty much abandoned after the first half hour where the emphasis shifts to the planning of the assassination, but it still provides a solid dramatic backdrop. The final battle could have been better though, not bad by any means but it won't make any best-final-fights lists either.

Overall a very solid and commendable effort, beautiful to look at with a nice story and some action to go with it. Fans of the genre will want to take a look.


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