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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
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")
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
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.
*** This review may contain 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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
13 Assassins/Jûsan-nin no shikaku (2010) directed by Miike Takashi is a
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.
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.....
*** This review may contain 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.
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Takashi Miike's remake is one of the best films I've seen in 2011 and
possibly one of the action films I've ever seen (I'm waiting to see the
full version.) The plot of the film has a samurai asked to quietly put
a plan together that will assassinate the heir to the Shogunate. The
problem is the heir is dangerously and homicidally insane and people
fear that if he takes the throne everyone will die for his own
amusement (the guy really is evil). The samurai gathers together a band
of men who he can trust and they set about setting a trap to snare
their target. The film's climax comes in a sustained 40 plus minute
battle scene that will impress even the most jaded action movie lover.
This film floored me. It's a slow building tale of honor and loyalty that ha sights and sounds the likes of which I've never seen. It's a film that raises the stature of the already impressive director to the level of the greatest directors of all time. What he accomplishes is truly amazing.
It's a magnificent film that is one that needs to be seen on a BIG screen. The Japanese film industry (or any film industry for that matter) is simply not doing epics of this sort unless they are loaded with tons of computer manipulated images. They are the sort of things that are the reasons many of us attended the movies with any regularity.
I think the film is one of the best of the year.
I'm seriously considering putting this on the list of greatest action films of all time. I hesitate because there are a few minor flaws, the villain kind of disappears in the second half, and some of the characters are not fully drawn. I'm hoping that the reason is the fact that the version I saw is "The International" one which shaves off about 15 minutes from the run time.(based on other films that Magnolia and Magnet have released trimmed, the things that went were the character development parts).
A must see, especially for anyone who like action films. This film will kick you to the curb and then some.
It was only a couple of years ago i saw the famous Akira Kurosawa movie
" Seven Samurai" for the first time. A movie that inspired other
directors to make great films such as "The Magnificent Seven" and "A
fist full of Dollars" and there is no doubting that 13 Assassins
resembles Seven Samurai in many ways and although this will never be
talked about in the same way as Kurosawa's masterpiece , i enjoyed
nearly as much.
It's a very simple story about a group of samurai who are out to kill an evil lord who could destroy the country if he is allowed to live.
This is extremely violent and at times , especially in the first half hour , some scenes might be classed as upsetting but it's totally justified so we feel the emotion of wanting the lord dead and knowing how important it is.
I have to admit i did get a little confused when so many Japanese names were being talked about at the start and the fighting did go on a little bit too long in the last half but all in all it's a good film that fans of the genre will absolutely love.
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
*** This review may contain 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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