Jûsan-nin no shikaku (2010) Poster

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9/10
Another brilliant genre masterpiece from Takashi Miike
cadillac202 May 2011
Takashi Miike is arguably one of Japan's hardest working directors who has tackled several different genres, generally with good results. It used to be he would do a dozen or so projects a year, and more in his earlier days. This, of course, has diminished in place of bigger projects, but the man still remains one of Japan's most well known and prolific directors. So, it shouldn't surprise anyone that his undertaking of yet another new genre, the samurai epic, is something of a highly anticipated film. And yes, it succeeds in being another brilliant masterpiece from the man.

13 Assassins, though full of characters, is quite simple actually. A master Shogun samurai is charged with the killing of a cruel and masochistic Shogun lord before he can become more influential in the Japanese Shogunate. With this mission, he gathers together 13 samurai to join him in what appears to be a mostly suicidal mission as they take on a small army of soldiers. For years I have argued that Miike is a master filmmaker that doesn't get nearly the kind of recognition he deserves, as his experience and resume put him up with the likes of other classic filmmakers. This shows in Assassins as he brilliantly puts together this simple, yet purposeful film that calls back to the era of epic samurai films of the likes of Akira Kurosawa. In fact, the influence of Seven Samurai is quite apparent here, even going so far as to model some similar characters. However, do not be mistaken, as this is very much a Miike film, a combination of his abilities to craft a mainstream film and a cult hit.

And the trademarks are certainly there, with the sadistic young Shogun lord bearing the bizarre violent fetishes that have been displayed in Miike's more obscure works, namely Ichi the Killer. As you might suspect, the violence early on is shocking, effective, and often unexpected. This gives way later on to more stylish violence, but none the less, the film is incredibly violent, worthy of a hard R rating by American standards. Miike fans should be very pleased as he both employs his skills as a filmmaker while at the same time adhering to the general guidelines of making a samurai film. Here, he delves greatly into the genre, showing what it means to be a samurai and questioning their purpose through multiple views. Our master samurai, Shinzaemon, sees samurai as being for the people, while Hanbei, his rival, sees them as entirely in servitude to their master without question. Even the young lord, Shinzaemon's target, has a view, thought it is certainly the most negative of any of them.

If I have any complaints, it's two. First, the film does little exposition of the large cast and most of the assassins are simply there to be a fighting force. We learn very little about most of them, and even the samurai we do learn about, including Shinzaemon, get little exposition besides what we already expect, that he's a great samurai of justice. The second would be the clunking over the head about samurai ideals. Miike continues to push messages we've already acquired early in the film and it becomes slightly redundant by the end. However, these are minor complaints that are mostly easily ignored as the film runs at a fast pace with a 45 minute battle that is one of the best samurai battles I've seen on film, comparing to Azumi or Zatoichi's finale, but arguably handled better and with a master's touch.

It's hard to know if this is Miike's pinnacle. He certainly creates a modern samurai masterpiece of an epic here. One particularly powerful scene will remain with you for a long time, and this is the power of Miike's film, one that goes to places many are afraid to tread to leave a lasting impression. Violent, entertaining, and with good examination of the samurai and their duties, fans of Miike's previous films and fans of the samurai epic will not be disappointed.
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9/10
Thundering Shogun!
armandcbris4 October 2010
This film was a dark-edged delight from beginning to end when I saw it at the 2010 edition of TIFF. The audience there loved it too, breaking out into spontaneous applause during several scenes.

Solid direction by Miike, great characters, beautifully shot and simply some of the best and most intense action sequences put on film - ever! It does have it's obvious influences, such as Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai", but damn, this one kicks ass mightily! You've never seen Shogun like this! And something else to point out: the sound on this film was thundering, shaking and stellar! THIS is the kind of film that reminds us why we go to a movie theatre to enjoy a film on a big screen, why we turn off our cell phones and immerse ourselves in the experience of cinema-going, as opposed to staying home on our couches.

I'll go see it again on the big screen when it hopefully returns to town - you can bet on that!
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9/10
A Future Classic by Takashi Miike
Claudio Carvalho24 October 2012
In 1844, the peace of the Feudal Japan is threatened by the cruel Lord Naritsugu Matsudaira (Gorô Inagaki) that is politically rising and getting closer to his half-brother, the shogun. After the harakiri of Namiya clan leader, the samurai Shinzaemon Shimada (Kôji Yakusho) is summoned by the shogun's adviser Sir Doi (Mikijiro Hira) of the Akash Clan to listen to the tragedy of Makino Uneme ((Takumi Saitô), whose son and daughter-in-law have been murdered by Naritsugu. Then Sir Doi shows a woman with arms, legs and tongue severed by Naritsugu and she writes with her forearm a request to Shinza to slaughter Naritsugu and his samurais.

Shinza promises to kill Naritsugu and he gathers eleven other samurais and plots a plan to attack Naritsugu in his trip back to the Akash land. But the cunning samurai Hanbei Kitou (Masachika Ichimura) that is responsible for the security of his master foresees Shinza's intent. Shinza decides to go with his samurais through the mountain, where they find the hunter Koyata (Yûsuke Iseya) that guides them off the mountain and joins the group. Now the thirteen men prepare an ambush to Naritsugu and his army of two hundred samurais in a suicide mission to stop evil.

"Jûsan-nin no shikaku", a.k.a, "13 Assassins", is a future classic of the samurai genre by Takashi Miike. It is inevitable to compare this film with Akira Kurosawa's "Seven Samurais" and the epic "The 300 Spartans", but "13 Assassins" is among the best samurais movies I have ever seen, with a solid story in the Edo period of Japan, stunning cinematography, wonderful performances and fantastic choreography in the battle scenes. My vote is nine.

Title (Brazil): "13 Assassinos" ("13 Assassins")
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10/10
413th Review: Excellent Samurai Movie And One Of The Films Of The Year
intelearts10 May 2011
This is an epic masterpiece and is clearly a cut above most films in direction, acting, and cinematography. But what really sets it apart is that it connects the viewer to Bushido and has those values firmly at its core.

The sadistic tyrant who must be assassinated or Japan will turn once more to feudal warfare is told with verve and elan, but also with real dignity and a great sense of pace. The first hour is simply superb as we watch the recruiting and planning of the assassins. The second hour is a maelstrom of action with katanas flashing and impossible odds. I actually preferred the first half in the main, but absolutely no complaints with the action either.

All in all, this is simply, by far and away, the best action film of 2011 so far, but putting in a genre does not do it justice - for this reviewer, it is the most complete cinematic experience since Winter's Bone and is that rare animal these days - a film that looks, feels, and produces the sensation of film rather than TV.

Probably one of the better films (Japanese or otherwise) I have seen this decade without exaggeration - it actually attempts to embody Bushido and understand the meaning and purpose of the Shogunate and the Samurai - plus Katanas - oh yes - lots and lots of katanas.....
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10/10
One of the best I've seen..
robertestx5 September 2011
This movie has an immense amount of depth for a movie of it's genre. There are many things about this movie that motivated me to rank it as I did. Starting with the acting - from the main characters, their roles, words, facial expressions, movements - done with such sincerity. Honest, real emotions. It gives you a glimpse into a world where honor is defined and mutated by the hearts of men. One Samurai, honors and views his position as a guardian of the people, able to see, comprehend, and act upon injustice. And the other Samurai? His heart is not towards the people, but has, as I've said mutated into an honor, that seemingly cloaked in the traditional honor of serving and protecting his lord, is really mutated into a self-serving, blinded existence that could potentially be his downfall. Who knows? Who triumphs in this movie? Be prepared to be surprised on many levels! The swordplay is bar none in my opinion. The landscape genuine, with fantastic cinematography. As many movies in this genre, there are moments of 'over-the-top' exclamatory remarks that often typify a Shogun/Samurai flick, this just keeps reminding you that an American producer with more eye for gore than plot is NOT at the helm of this ship. This movie has it all for me. It has a plot, a story line that will have you remembering the 7 Samurai, The Magnificent 7, and a little of the A-Team, but done so in a remarkable fashion, executed in a classical, raw, well orchestrated fashion. I will watch this again. I will undoubtedly see more to this movie then, than now. And that will be a treat unto itself. If you are a fan of the Samurai/Shogun genre of film. Watch this. pop the popcorn or whatever, but don't drink too much because you will not want to get up, even for a bathroom break on this one!
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10/10
Mainstream Film-Making at its Very Best
8thSin15 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Director Miike Takashi was once a cult film phenomenon in Japan with controversial films such as 'Audition', 'Dead or Alive' series, and 'Koroshiya Ichi'. Recently, however, his works are getting more mainstream-friendly with high-budgeted films such as "Crows ZERO" series, 'Ryuu ga Gotoku', and 'Yatterman'. Sure, there's still plenty of violence, but nowhere near as shocking nor horrifying as his earlier films. Is he a sellout? Perhaps. But how can we blame him? You'll be approached by major studios once you attain certain level of fame, and higher budget means it must appeal to more people in order to get the investment back. '13 Assassins' delivers exactly that despite being a Japanese period piece, which traditionally appealed only to the older generation and film buffs. The movie was screened at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival under 'Masters' category, "Films made by the most influential directors living today", and Miike Takashi lives up to expectations.

'13 Assassins' is supposedly a remake of 1963 jidaigeki (Japanese period piece) of same title. Let me tell you this, the movie is not a true jidaigeki. Miike Takashi has transformed it into a 126 minutes of pure fun and excitement.

The story is about an assassination attempt of a tyrant lord by 13 'true' samurais who are believers in justice and uprising on behalf of the People in the year 1844. The original film was famous for its 30 minutes of continuous battle sequence, and the remake's may be even longer. Long story short, it's action-packed, and more people got slashed than in the 'Azumi' series in this movie.

As a service to Miike's cult following, the movie is far more violent than typical jidaigeki, with plenty of gut-exploding, head-rolling action and some grotesque scenes involving a woman with separated limbs (who created a plot device that ultimately became one of the most dramatic scenes in the movie). Unlike other Japanese war epics, the movie also has a modern sense of humor with plenty of comedic reliefs, astonishingly beautiful cinematography in the forest, and advanced battle tactics. What's surprising, is that none of it felt unnatural and corny like every other modern jidaigeki films that attempted and failed miserably to modernize period pieces, such as "Tsukigami" and "Sakuran".

The cast is truly star galore with some of the biggest names in Japanese acting, and experienced supporting actors. About half of them are actors with extremely unique or modern faces that I would've never expected to see in a period piece, but none of the characters seemed out of place even though their faces are still very much identifiable. The biggest surprise was the choice of boy band SMAP member, Inagaki Gorou as the twisted villainous lord. Not only did he hold his own among far more talented full-time actors, he was vital in much of the humor that made this film a success. Truly talented directors are capable of drawing the most out of his cast, and Miike had done just that.

'13 Assassins' is a movie destined to become a blockbuster. Time just flies by when you're having fun, and the audience at the TIFF screening were applauding in every cool and dramatic scenes, and eventually turned into a standing ovation as the credits started rolling.

Remakes are all about translating an outdated (or foreign culture) piece into a work that appeals to the modern (or local) audience. '13 Assassins' does both with universal language of comedy and violence which transformed a classic period piece into a thriller for the modern taste that anyone over the age of 12 (or whatever age restrictions this film will get in your country) can enjoy despite being a jidaigeki. I would recommend this movie to just about everyone. In fact, you don't even need to be a Japanese movie buff to appreciate it. Mainstream film-making at its very best.
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7/10
13 assassins, one memorable movie.
lewiskendell29 August 2011
"Thirteen. The time has come to lay down your lives for the greater cause. Are you ready?"

13 Assassins is all about the payoff. And the payoff comes in the form of 50 minutes of absolute carnage at the end of the movie. The story is about 13 warriors, some of the last truly capable samurai at a time when the era of those legendary soldiers was coming to an end, who band together to kill a despicable, deranged and utterly evil lord who is step-brother and future heir to the ruling shogun. Greatly outnumbered, the men devise a plan to force Lord Naritsugu and his guards to a village that they've prepared as what can only be called as a deathtrap.  

If you liked the "Crazy 88's" fight from Kill Bill Volume 1 or the massive battle at the end of Azumi, then the epic showdown at the end of 13 Assassins automatically makes this a must see. But what about the preceding half of the movie? Most of that time is spent introducing us to the 13 assassins, Sir Hanbei - the noble but loyal to a fault man who is in charge of Lord Naritsugu's safety, and making us hate (and I mean REALLY hate) the lord himself. This portion of the movie was necessary to setup finale, but it was understandably not as exciting or captivating as the lengthy battle it precedes. 

Rest assured though, the storytelling doesn't stop when the action begins. Some action scenes in movies can be so endless that they become monotonous (and boring, as a result), but 13 Assassins neatly avoids that trap by including character development until the very end. 

This is a brutal, visceral movie, from the sadism of Lord Naritsugu to the blood-soaked, frenetic finale. If that sounds like something you'd be interested in, I heartily recommend that you give it a shot. 
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10/10
The Master Strikes Again
I'm a huge fan of Takashi Miike, so I was very excited to be able to attend a sneak peek of his latest film. Miike's one of those directors who seems to be trying to make at least one film in every style, and this latest is his foray into the classic "samurai avenging injustices" genre. Only, we all know by now that Miike's style is anything but "classic." He always manages to find a way to infuse his own unique, warped imprint into everything he touches. Especially since he insists on making the most bizarre cameos possible in all the films he directs. They are always really fun to watch for.

So, this film is great. It starts off just as slowly as any of these old period pieces set in feudal era Japan, but it quickly descends into pure mayhem and madness. Shinzaemon is a retired samurai, but he is prompted back into action when he learns that the Shogun's "adopted" (code for bastard) son, Lord Naritsugu, has been terrorizing peasants. He's been killing and mutilating men, women and children all throughout the land, and all with the most cold- hearted, disinterested cruelty. So Shinzaemon decides to assemble a band of other idle samurai to hunt this despot down and assassinate him. Those would be the thirteen assassins that give this film its title. And they really are a very mismatched band of warriors. And these men are caricatures—each outrageous in his own way.

The one thing I really love about Takashi Miike's style is that he's never afraid to just go for it. He's got no shame, and absolutely no restraint. I think this is because he has a deep-rooted sense of humor (albeit a very dark one). It's an ability to identify and appreciate the absurdity in life. Miike's films have a reputation for being pretty violent and bloody (and this one is certainly no exception). But they are also incredibly funny. The gore is certainly meant to shock, but I don't think it's just for the sake of a cheap thrill. I think it's meant to throw us of balance. His work is horrifying where we expect delicacy, and actually quite subtle where viewers typically expect to find vulgarity. Of course, we can always count on Miike for some truly silly stunts too. The result is audiences that are quite delighted and amused, even after witnessing all the horror and disfigurement and devastation. Those moments are upsetting and heartbreaking, for sure. But, Miike really understands how a film should flow, and balances these difficult scenes with the right dose of irreverence. He's a true master, and this film is a roaring success.
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10/10
By far Miike's most outstanding film to date
malbanese4 April 2011
Having been furious at American cinema for releasing some garbage over the past few years, I have purely focused on international cinema and more so Asian cinema. You would be hard pressed finding better films than what South Korea has to offer. Unless you stumble across 13 Assassins. My god, what an experience. And that is exactly what it is, an experience. Exactly what cinema is meant to be. I will not spoil any part of this film other than saying, if you are sick and tired of the same old melodramatic, over hyped, under performed, over budgeted, egotistical, run of the mil ho hum doldrum from modern day cinema, then you must (and I mean must) see 13 Assassins. This film is a solid entry from Takashi Miike. His previous films were everything from outstanding to bizarre, but this film speaks volumes. It is a film reminiscent of 7 Samurai, brilliantly executed. Takashi Miike has certainly matured in his vision, bringing to the screen an instant classic. Tell your people, friends, family, scream it from the rooftops.....13 Assassins is brilliant! Now, how long will it take Hollywood to bastardize this film?
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Bloody Jidaigeki
petra_ste11 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
While most modern action movies feel bloated and overlong, with unnecessary subplots sprouting on every scene, 13 Assassins has the opposite problem. An epic Jidaigeki homaging Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, the film follows veteran warrior Shinzaemon Shimada, entrusted with the task of eliminating a bloodthirsty powerful nobleman, untouchable by the law; Shimada assembles a team of fighters for the dangerous mission.

Structure is simple. In the first act, 13 Assassins introduces the major players and displays the nobleman's atrocities (one moment in particular is truly disturbing, cementing the movie's R rating); in the second, Shimada and his men reach an isolated village to prepare the trap, while the nobleman's right-hand man Hanbei attempts to anticipate their moves. The last act is a bloody, pulse-pounding battle which, in spite of its length (over thirty minutes), maintains a great level of tension.

While action is spectacular, characterization is lacking. Kôji Yakusho is excellent as Shimada, but only three or four of his men - including his nephew and a clownish bandit who is a clear homage to Seven Samurai's Kikuchiyo - get any kind of development; the rest are simply guys with swords. With deeper characterization, the last battle would have been even more powerful.

7/10
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8/10
13 Samurai brought together in a spectacular film....
Joe19 June 2011
If you've never seen anything by director Miike Takashi then be prepared for a no-holds barred film. I've been a bit of a fan for many years having watched some of his best known films (e.g. Audtion and The Dear or Alive trilogy) and have quite liked his style. It may disturb as much as it amazes, but you will have to acknowledge some great film-making.

The énfant terrible of Asian film-making world (according to one review I read) here he takes a complete sidestep with this take on the traditional samurai tale. A group of samurai are brought together to bring down a sadistic Lord who is expected in time to be elevated to higher levels of authority. As a foil to the group is another senior samurai figure who is hell-bent on protecting the Lord in belief that it is their duty not to take politics in their own hands but to serve.

Some very violent scenes, the story is excellent and builds up to a long battle scene which sees our heavily outnumbered group battle to complete their mission. The fight scenes are incredibly well choreographed and paced excellently, and very violent also as you would expect.

It's not just the action that is the crux of the film, but actually the story is well done and the acting is exceptional. One added member of the group (admittedly not a samurai) adds some comic relief which helps to ease the tension at times, and is a nice touch.

The settings are exceptional and the dialogue is excellent. It can be difficult to follow early on as you try to figure out the political world and the figures that are relevant in this world, but you will capture the gist of what is to be taken from it all.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and if you are into old Samurai tales then this is one for watch. Very engrossing and will likely be one for repeat viewing.
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9/10
Most polished and accomplished work from Takashi yet
Greg15 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
On my list of favorite directors, there is always a place for Takashi Miike. I was introduced to Miike with Audition in 1999 and I have collected his titles like a hunter would deer heads. Go up and down my DVD collection and you will find Ichi the Killer, 3 Extremes, Visitor Q, Gozu, One Missed Call and Imprint. I don't know if any other working director has as many titles represented on my 'owned' list. Naturally, when I saw that Miike was bringing his latest effort, 13 Assassins, to the Toronto International Film Festival, I was sure to secure a ticket for the screening. 13 Assassins is a bit of a departure for the hard working Miike (Miike has 82 director credits to his name on IMDb.com). His films have generally been violent films set in modern times. And many of his films have been banned or misunderstood (Audition, Ichi the Killer). The synopsis for 13 Assassins - A group of assassins come together for a suicide mission to kill an evil lord - doesn't read like a Takashi Miike film, but with the violence and torture evident in the film's first reel, I was quickly assured that 13 Assassins was imprinted with classic Miike moments. 13 Assassins starts by addressing the villain of the film, Lord Naritsugu Matsudaira (Gorô Inagaki) who is one nasty sonofabitch. We watch as Naritsugu shoots arrows into an entire family who are bound and lying on the ground. Even the youngest child isn't saved from the flying arrows. We also witness a peasant girl who has had her arms and legs cut off. Even her tongue was removed by the sadistic Naritsugu after her family was massacred. These atrocities propel Shinzaemon Shimada (Kôji Yakusho) to abandon his Samurai values and he begins to amass a group of warriors that will attempt to ambush Naritsugu and his army of approximately 70 men in a town named Ochlai. His warriors amount to twelve, but when they set out on their mission and inadvertently become lost in the thick jungle, a 13th assassin – a hunter who knows the terrain – joins the band of samurai out to avenge past wrongs and to ensure that Naritsugu doesn't reach the Akashi domain where he is destined to become second in command to The Shogun. The first third of the film deals with Shimada amassing the team and learning of further Naritsugu acts of violence against the people of Japan. But when they samurai set up their ambush in Ochlai, the fun really beings and the final chapters are non-stop action and samurai fighting. 13 Assassins is not only the most accomplished and polished film of Takashi Miike's career, it is also the best film we have watched so far at the Toronto International Film Festival. And judging by the audience's reaction, I was not along in this sediment. The action sequences were relentless and maintained a momentum that The Expendables could only wish for. Every one of the 13 assassins were identifiable and had interesting attributes (the warrior, the loco, the one who uses spears…). The sound that accompanied the action was award worthy. The theatre rocked with explosions and with the sounds of blades cutting flesh and was only drowned out by the consistent audience applause in appreciation. Last year, I picked The Good, The Bad and The Weird to be my favorite film of the year. This year, 13 Assassins stands tall at the top of the list with just a few months to go.
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4/10
It Stinks
cloudsponge9 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
The director's stated purpose was to see if "they" could make a classic-style samurai movie. He and "they" utterly failed. Having seen this garbled junk I would proffer the guess that his real purpose was not to make a movie but to get material to write a how-to book, one that could be titled: "How to Make a Samurai Movie by and for Idiots." It's not just the U.S. that is dumbing down, is it? Pity Japan.

Three-fourths of the way into the movie I mentally disassociated from it because the endlessly repetitive overkill became boring. Suddenly I could care less about the movie and began to wonder what it would be like going to a restaurant run by Takashi Miike. It would be, perhaps, somewhere in the foothills of western Tokyo. I would arrive at dusk and be welcomed into an old thatched-roof cottage converted into an elegant restaurant. The darkness of the interior would be softly illuminated in places by the warm glow of paper lanterns. Each dish would arrive one by one like scenes in a movie, one after another. First a lacquered bowl of miso soup would arrive at my table, wisps of wakame, a few green slices of scallions, and tiny cubes of tofu would be floating in it. Yum. Delicious. Then would be brought a side dish of thinly sliced lotus root, green soybeans, and hijiki. So far, so good. Then, about halfway through the repast, industrial fluorescent lights would be clicked on overhead, the purpose of which would be to destroy the deeply rich traditional atmosphere. Then, with about as much finesse as his scenes in the movie of ultimately boring, repetitive, endless crowds of slashing that went on and on and on and on. And on and on. And on and on and on and on and on, Miike would toss down a slab of cooked eel right on the bare wood of the table in front of me, not even bothering to use a plate. He would uncap a jar of powdered Japanese sansho pepper and dump the whole jar all over the cooked eel. Looming over me and wielding the bloodied thigh bone of a wild boar he would force me to eat this concoction with my fingers. Me, all along, thinking, like while watching the movie, that good cooks know that a dish of food can be ruined by using too much strong spice. The movie was made unpalatable by that boring, eye-numbing endless crowd slashing scene. Watching these scenes could be likened to trying to eat sushi that is more wasabi than rice or fish, or that eel above that isn't just tastily seasoned with sansho pepper but thickly submerged in it.

And that stupid ending. The guy doing a terrible impersonation of Toshiro Mifune's Kikuchiyo in "Seven Samurai," walks up to the only other survivor of the "total massacre" showing zero evidence of his having been stabbed through the throat and otherwise slashed by swords deeply. I was thinking perhaps they were both dead until I didn't care. The only meaning that scene had was Miike was messing with the audience. So it's like back at the restaurant, I'm finished; unsatisfied, nauseous, and with an enormous mental bellyache, but ready to pay the bill. Miike says, "Ha ha. You know that eel you thought you were eating? It wasn't really eel. It was just textured vegetable protein. Ha ha. Fooled you, didn't I?" Betrayed to the very end.

I mentioned idiots above. Whenever I see a movie this bad I look at the hundreds of people listed in the end credits and wonder how so many people can be involved in the making of a movie and not one of them with an ounce of intelligence. Today I got to thinking that movies are often not so much group efforts as mob efforts, and, after all, a mob has the intelligence of the least intelligent member, and the emotional stability of the most psychologically-screwed-up person in the mob.

Why was the evil Lord Naritsugu Matsudaira riding a horse when people in his position at that time would be carried in palanquins? Stupid. How did those 13 idiots carry tons of explosives by foot over those mountains they got stupefyingly lost in? They hardly had anything at all they were carrying. Stupid. What was that business with the jerk who had rows and rows of spare swords to swap with the ones he was using? To show him throwing them to amazing effect would be something to see, and an excuse to have a ready supply of them, but, no, he just drops the ones he's using, leaving himself briefly unarmed, just to pick up another sword. Stupid. That huge vat of dark-looking blood spilling from the top of a building that had neither precursory scene nor effect. Stupid. Those 13 jerks who have their quarry trapped like vicious barracuda in a barrel. What do they do? Figuratively get naked and climb into the barrel. Stupid. They didn't have to kill 200 armed warriors, they just had to kill one man. One man who was constantly in the open riding a horse. That they couldn't is just, well, stupid. Takashi Miike and his crew. Stupid. Me for wasting my money on this trash: The most stupid. Downright imbecilic. Thanks for making me feel that way Miike, not.

But is it possible that the film makers became so befuddled that this movie, beginning in a super-realistic way, at some point, in a totally confusing fashion, reverted to being something merely symbolic and representational in a ludicrous way? Exactly. Ludicrous. Way beyond stupid.
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6/10
Flaming Cows!!!
njmollo31 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
13 Assassins/Jûsan-nin no shikaku (2010) directed by Miike Takashi is a remake.

The black and white 1963 version is a stoic film that is beholden to Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai (1954). It revels in the detail of the plot to kill the cowardly and arrogant Lord Naritsugu. It also revels in strategy and tactics of the eventual battle.

Miike Takashi's remake changes a few minor elements of the plot, adding a terrifying and gratuitous moment of a victim of Lord Naritsugu's perverted amusements. This is the most successful and disturbing scene in the whole production.

It is surprising how similar the first hour of Miike Takashi's remake is to the original but unlike the original, this new version seems to rush, as if desperate to get to the action. As a consequence, some memorable scenes in the original, such as the attempt of Lord Naritsugu to cross a bridge, feel less dramatic and rushed.

Miike Takashi has changed the character Lord Naritsugu, as depicted in the 1963 version. Instead of an arrogant, cowardly and childish character, Naritsugu has become an angelic psychopath, softly spoken and not at all, a coward.

This new version of Lord Naritsugu is less satisfying than the hysterical and broader characterisation in the original movie because, now, Naritsugu enjoys the battle to the point of orgiastic pleasure rather than being fearful for his pathetic life.

Miike Takashi's remake throws out of the window any attempt to explain the battle in terms of strategy and tactics. Here the extravagant traps and automated barriers look as if they were designed to keep out hungry dinosaurs rather than improvised fences to trap an enemy and dictate the conflict. The original 13 Assassins (1963) succeeds completely in showing how the village is converted into a death trap and the desperation of those that can't escape.

Miike Takashi, instead turns the battle into a chaotic frenzy with ridiculous and utterly unconvincing computer generated flaming cattle charging down the main street. Another WTF moment, is the explosion of blood that pours down the roofs after two Samurai are blown up.

Miike Takashi can be a stunning film director and although 13 Assassins could be called his most mainstream adult work, it fails in comparison with the 1963 version.
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10/10
This movie is a masterpiece
Brian Kndeneh2 November 2015
I came across 13 Assassins, after watching a line-up of old Japan movies with samurai's which made this movie a eye opener for me.

While watching 13 Assassins, I noticed the dialog, the acting and the physical part (action), all those were a prefect match. I have seen great movies, and I'm proud to put this one on the list of movie worth watch.

I don't know about you guys but I get the feeling that sometimes I wish I never saw movies that are great, so that I can watch them for the first time again and again.

Regards Brian
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9/10
Excellent Tale
view_and_review27 January 2014
I'm partial to Samurai and Kung Fu movies, but whether or not that was the case, I still loved this movie. Nothing is better than a gritty tale of correcting injustice.

This movie did an excellent job of pulling you in to the actual plight and motive of the 13 assassins. There wasn't a lot of special effects to rely upon, and as a subtitled movie, the dialogue was concise and good at conveying the plot. I especially loved the speech given to the Samurais as they were training: "If you don't have a sword use a stick... if no stick use a rock... you'll die but make the enemy feel pain." It's not a precise quote, but those are some very inspirational words.

It was just a no frills film of David versus Goliath that had depth. 13 Assassins conveyed so much emotion with the little dialog and the imagery. There was no ambiguity as to who I wanted to prevail and who I wanted to be vanquished. I think it's amazing that they could do an oft-told tale such as this and still do it well.
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Film of two halves but both work well in different ways
bob the moo6 May 2012
I'm a little wary of films from Takashi Miike as, although they are generally received as good, my experience of them has been that they are bloody and very odd. Thirteen Assassins though seemed a bit more accessible in terms of being more straightforward, which in some ways then makes the violence a little easier to watch. The plot here sees the amoral behaviour of Lord Naritsugu infuriate a small group of men who, led by veteran samurai Shinzaemon, set out to trap him and his 100+ entourage of guards (led by samurai Hanbei) in order to kill him and end his rise to power for the greater good.

This plot essentially cuts the film in half. The first half of the film is the setup and is mostly dialogue driven. It is slow and patient but not dull as the main thing it does is to turn the main character (and the audience) against Naritsugu by virtue of the terrible things he has done. This is brutal and quite shocking in regards some of the things we see, half-see or view the aftermath of. At the same time it gives us some time to get to know the thirteen main characters; although there is an air of honour to all of them, the characters do have traits of humour, weakness, anger and so on, which mark them out but also add some colour to the telling. The second half of the film begins when the trap is sprung and a small village becomes a contained killing field soon to be filled with bodies and blood.

I had wondered how I would find this because there was always the potential that action involving this size of a crowd would just be a mess of flailing and blood and that it wouldn't have any tension or flow to it. To a certain extent, this is a bit of a problem at times but mostly Miike overcomes it by splitting up the characters across the village and mixing smaller conflicts with bigger ones. You do still need to buy the sight of tired individual men cutting through a stream of 20 men but the narrative sort of makes this easy (it is a time of peace with a lower standard of samurai) but also it isn't all this type of action. It is bloody but without being overly gory for the sake of it. The delivery manages to make me believe the concept of the honourable death (not something I do normally) because of how dishonourable Naritsugu is and how likable Shinzaemon is throughout. The cast do well in this regard not only to make characters but also to remain distinguishable in the midst of the chaos and blood. Yakusho is strong in the lead and he contrasts well with Ichimura and Inagaki well; both of whom are also good even if Inagaki has a bit of an open goal in regards doing a simple amoral character. The supporting cast are good and mix their characters well with my favourite being Iseya who is fun and funny even if what his character represents sort of doesn't work for my western viewpoint.

Overall though, Thirteen Assassins is an engaging film that has good build-up which explodes into chaos and violence for the second half. I don't think it is perfect but in fairness some of the problems I had with it came with the plot and the territory, so they are not failings so much as just part of the film.
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9/10
Great, but with minor flaws
raoul-guariguata15 June 2011
13 Assassins is a bad ass movie. I would have loved to see this movie in cinema, but unfortunately German audience, cinema and distributors are ignorant, so it was a direct to DVD-release. Story is simple: mid of 19th century. Evil lord who loves torturing people should be assassinated by a group of samurai. Similarity with Akira Kurosawa's masterpiece Seven Samurai is given, but it is a remake of a 1960's movie with the same title. Unusual "normal" for a Takashi Miike movie, he proves in my opinion that he is able to create movies for bigger audiences and not only film lovers with focus on Asian cinema. Although he has left the underground a long time a go. Like I mentioned above, this movie would have deserved a theatrical release. I love chambara movies and have seen many. This is definite a return to the genre, even if Miike makes some mistakes at points, the movie is outstanding. Costume, setting, actors. Everything has been created with extreme love for the detail. A entire village was set up (and then more or less completely destroyed for the movie). The main battle is epic. 40 min non stop action. Miike keeps the violence relatively low for his standards. Two or three decapitations, not really any severed limbs. Could have had more I thought, but then it probably wouldn't have worked for a bigger audience. The actors are superb and suit their roles. I did feel reminded of good old sixties with Mifune and Nakadai. The actors might not possess their status and their charisma, but they are close and Miike is proving that he can handle serious and bigger stuff. The CGI he should have let done by an European or American team, then there wouldn't have been any visual flaws. The blood from the roof....I really would like to know if Miike was inspired by Kitamura's Azumi, in which there is a similar scene towards the end. For people, who don't like dialogs and long introductions: the movie is split in two. A very long build up over half of the movie and the last third the battle. I am reviewing the international version with its 2H 5min runtime. The Japanese is half an hour longer. I am looking forward, once released....and for the next Miike-movies. A director the international critics can't ignore no longer.....
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10/10
13 Assassins - Outstanding (Performance, Direction & Originality)
ajit-jake17 January 2012
There is not enough words to explain the Execution of this feature film.Miike Takashi did a fantastic job proving his potential again.

The first few minutes pulls you into the whole plot involved.Evil Lord(Naritsugu) is on his last step to become the senior adviser of Shogun(council) which is 2nd most powerful post in the country. Sir Doi as council elder cannot do anything politically as the council appointed lord Naritsugu to be the senior adviser effective on his next visit to EDO.

So he appoints Shinzaemon Shimada to stop Naritsugu before he reaches to Edo.And he then forms the team that head out to do so.

The battles were executed with great perfection and were very realistic.I say realistic because there were no "oh! we gotta slow down the swing of the sword or someone might get hurt" moments.

There were some Strong Violence (maybe a little more than some).But the good thing about is the movie is not 2 hours of violence.It has breaks, to get you back to the seat in theater, then pull you back in when it needs to.

With Realistic characters, story and Violence, It definitely is one of the best samurai movies lately.

I rate it 9.6/10...

Hope This Helps. Thank You for reading my review.HAPPY VIEWING

-Ajit
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10/10
13 Assassins (2010)
SnakesOnAnAfricanPlain13 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
For so long I've waited to be blown away by a film. Every movie I've watched recently just doesn't measure up. As films continued to disappoint me I found solace in comics and TV. Finally, Takashi Miike releases his masterpiece. This film is grand on every scale and is so beautifully composed, it hit every note.

I'll start with the expectations of a Miike film. He is known for his violence and gore, which is simply underestimating the man. Sure, films like Visitor Q and Ichi the Killer flirt with controversy before sodomizing it, but he knows how to create a movie. He manages to reduce and compromise our expectations with the opening scene. A man commits harakiri. Always gruesome, but Miike actually cuts to just the man's face. Is Miike getting soft? Far from it. This just means that the violent showdown is all the more powerful. He releases the violence when the time is right.

Unlike recent Hollywood action films, Sucker Punch and Battle LA, the journey towards the action is what makes it so fascinating. Miike spends a long time exploring his characters and their beliefs, as well as the themes of the movie. This means that the final fight is about something and someone. They aren't just trying to kill a guy, they are showing us what they believe. Like many samurai films, this deals a lot with loyalty, duty and honor. However, it is far more critical of these things than previous films. Inagaki plays such a despicable villain, that it parodies how dedicated his samurai are. Inagaki is such a fun villain to hate. He's egotistical and grotesque, always relying on those around him for protection. The film has a lot of dialogue as it escalates towards the finale, but it never tells us the exact plan.

I was completely unprepared for the last 40 minutes. Miike has built up his characters, has outlined the threats (and then increased them) and everything is set to go. So why is the finale so epic? First of all it starts with the absurd. Despite it's build up Miike throws a curve ball, but does so with such confidence that we are still gripped. He presents his 13 assassins (at first) as being almost invincible. They dive around, take on dozens of samurai etc. but it's all a lot of fun. Next, he starts to injure the protagonists. It comes as a shocking reminder that these guys can be hurt, making us now fully invested in the scene. Miike shoots everything with a simple fluidity. You can see what is going on, who is killing who, even though you are surrounded by blood and explosions. Finally, as the characters have been whittled down, we get a personal confrontation. One that reminds us what all this is for. It takes a lot of skill to make a lengthy action scene enjoyable for its duration. Especially when it goes from fun, to tense, to tragic, before it all comes to an end.

It's a film that really does come together. I was more than satisfied, and I felt that I had been escorted on a complete journey, whilst enjoying the sites.
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1/10
Just like an average Hollywood action-flick
underwearhero23 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Even though this film reminds a lot of the superior Seven Samurai, it is more like the average Hollywood action flick.

At the beginning of the movie the 'bad-guy' is introduced. He seems to be so evil that he's hard to believe as a real character. Unrealistic villains like this are very common in bad action films and we all know that 9 out of 10 times a bad guy like this gets killed or punished at the end. This brings me to the biggest flaw of this film, the predictability.

There are no surprises in this film, there is no suspense. You'll watch it the same expression on your face from beginning to end because everything is predictable. After 20 minutes into the film you already know what will happen. There will be a big fight (not all the samurai are going to survive) and at the end the bad guy will get killed and they lived happily ever after. But then you have to wait about an hour before this takes place. This is quite a boring hour because all they're doing is sitting in a circle discussing how they are going to attack (which is not interesting to listen too, trust me). Meanwhile the villain is traveling from A to B. They talk some more in a circle, villain travels. They talk, villain travels.

Then finally it's time for the grand finale.....but..it's just plain boring. Plain sword fights, nothing special, some of them die like you predicted and it's time for the final showdown with the bad guy. The clichéd, hurt villain crawling on the ground begging words like 'it hurts! i don't want to die! i'm scared!' is nothing original. This has been done way too often and most of the time in B action flicks.

There's nothing new in this film that we haven't seen before already. Sure the cinematography is OK, the acting is decent, but that's about it. It's better to go watch Seven Samurai instead, which I'm not even a big fan of but it's definitely better than this knock off.
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10/10
Quite a bloody affair
dee.reid5 September 2011
Takashi Miike's "13 Assassins" is the Japanese gore maestro's first true epic film. The movie is bloody and incredibly realistic, yet there's also some elements of the supernatural thrown in for good measure. And did I mention that the film is incredibly bloody? The film's climax has to have set a record for the longest cinematic action sequence and the requisite body count to boot. Set in 1844 Japan during the Edo Period, the story concerns an assassination plot that basically amounts to a suicide mission: 13 samurai, under the leadership of Shinzaemon (Koji Yakusho), have been hired out to assassinate Lord Naritsugu (Goro Inagaki), a sadistic young Lord to the Tokugawa shogunate. The first half of the film, in what I could guess is a nod to Akira Kurosawa's epic "Seven Samurai" (1954), deals with the selection and recruitment of the men for this mission, and the second half of the film is basically an hour-long bloodbath. Miike's reputation was made around the world with the 1999 horror film "Audition." With his latest, it shows that he has indeed matured as a filmmaker and is definitely ready to take on hefty subject matter - the historical samurai epic. Although there's plenty of blood and guts here, Miike is more concerned with the reasons why these men are fighting and who they are exactly. Many of the samurai recruited by Shinzaemon are either too young or too old for this mission (and some are more developed than others, the film's only true weakness with such a significant cast), but they fight anyway because they believe that if Lord Naritsugu is elected to the shogunate council, it'll plunge the country into a civil war. So a great many things are at stake here, the most significant of which is the very future of the country. This is undoubtedly Miike's epic, his modern-day equivalent of Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai."

"13 Assassins" - 10/10
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9/10
Beware of those whose path you cross... you may be surprised just who they really are.
Melody Ayres-Griffiths31 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
A stylised remake of a 1960's Japanese historical drama, 13 Assassins focuses less here on any attempt at claiming to present hard fact, and instead concentrates on the stoic camaraderie between the cast of protagonists, and the eventual impossible battle they must wage against a psychopathic warlord.

Director Takashi Miike is not known for tame movies, and here he does not disappoint, forcing the audience to confront a victim of warlord Lord Naritsugu Matsudaira's cruelty, and prompting his actress to give the most heart-wrenching scream I've ever heard in a film. Happily, the gore is not too over-the-top; there are severed heads, but we do not see them being severed. The only exception is an unrealistic amount of blood generated due to an exploding samurai, but the irony of this becomes apparent in the end.

Unlike the original portrayal of Naritsugu, Gorô Inagaki's portrayal is of a despot, bored of peacetime life and wishing to return to the ways of war. Indeed, at the end one is left with the impression that Naritsugu inflicted all of his cruelty only to create the chain of events that led to his demise (although I don't believe he truly intended to die quite just yet.) Kôji Yakusho's Shinzaemon is stoic but identifiable, portraying a leader who connects to his followers (and his audience) better than most I've seen in recent years (if he speaks English, he might want to consider a move to LA).

The battle sequence is convoluted, but watchable, and the glimpse rendered into feudal Japan, although perhaps not entirely accurate in historical terms, gives one a better understanding of where Japanese culture came from.

*MAJOR SPOILER*

There is a definite departure from reality, however, in the character of the guide the 12 meet in the forest (the '13th Assassin'): he dies several times, and it quickly becomes pretty clear he's this film's interpretation the Buddhist 'Monkey God'. This leads to an amusing close, as the last samurai left alive is left in disbelief when, after seeing the guide run through, the guide is left without even a scratch. This leaves the viewer with a mild impression the 12 had 'divine approval' of their bloody activities, and ends things on a bit of a lighter note than the simple grim specter of the massacre, and the irony of the feudal system where to obey was one's foremost duty, regardless of the insanity of those one served.
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2/10
A pale copy of Kurosawa's "7 samurai"
ducon41 October 2011
I'm a big fan of samurai movies, from Kurosawa to Kubayashi, or even movies like Zatoichi (old ones), the twilight samurai or Ghost Dog. So I was expecting something fresh with 13 assassins but I just found a pale copy of 7 samurai. It does not come close to the quality of Kurosawa's movie. The film tries to be realistic but is over the top quite a few time. The characters are just like in 7 samurai: One of them is not a real samurai, you have the pro, the young, the gambler etc.... It's just a remake of 7 samurai. The final battle in the village and the trap is also comparable. This movie is just more boring and does not show us anything new. A big disappointment for me. I'm saying all this because each time something happened in the movie, I was thinking "Damn again something stolen from 7 samurai".... I mean come on, give us something new apart from your super last fight which was honestly over rated. The manichean pseudo moral does not go to far either. They want to kill a very very very bad guy (who obviously has mental issues) and they try to turn this as a good vs evil thing... The actors and the music, which made 7 samurai unforgettable don't compare either. TO be honest, I got bored and I thought about stopping the movie.
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