The closing chapter in Eiichi Kudo's Samurai Revolution trilogy is a reworking of the same story as the previous two, Thirteen Assassins and The Great Duel. It's almost identical so if you're familiar with the other two you'll be able to guess every plot point in advance. I guess that puts Kudo in the good company of Howard Hawks as a director who has done the same movie three times.
The novelty factor might have worn out by now, but Eleven Samurai is still a good example of the formal mid 60's chambara with a political vein running through it. The Abe clan is about to be abolished unjustly due to the rash actions of a nearby daimyo, who just so happens to be the former Shogun's son. A plot is devised by the Abe clan to assassinate him as he returns from Edo but things become complicated when a devious minister gets involved. The titular eleven samurai are trusted with carrying out the assassination and the protagonist leading them will be familiar to chambara enthusiasts as Kiba Okaminosuke from Hideo Gosha's Samurai Wolf. Sadly Kudo keeps things very black and white on the morality level by making the daimyo a spoiled, arrogant, petulant jerk-off so you have the good guys avenging their clan on one side and the villain on the other. The corrupt machinations of politics are personified (and condemned) in the form of the minister who instead of punishing the Shogun's son decides to abolish the Abe clan to avoid a scandal. Not really hard to sympathize with them. What makes up for the predictable plot and poorly developed drama is the final battle; there's very good DP work, rain and mud adding to the feeling and some decent swordsmanship going on so the film ends on a high note. If you've seen any of the previous two in Kudo's trilogy you should know exactly what to expect. Nothing ground-breaking for sure, but a solid, entertaining hour and a half to be had for chambara afficionados.
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