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Jûsan-nin no shikaku
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13 Assassins More at IMDbPro »Jûsan-nin no shikaku (original title)

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41 out of 65 people found the following review useful:

Most polished and accomplished work from Takashi yet

Author: Greg ( from Oakville, Ontario
15 September 2010

*** This review may contain 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 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 (Gor 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 (Kji 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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38 out of 60 people found the following review useful:

It Stinks

Author: cloudsponge from Japan
9 May 2011

*** 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.

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26 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

13 Samurai brought together in a spectacular film....

Author: Joe from United Kingdom
19 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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23 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

Flaming Cows!!!

Author: njmollo from London
31 March 2011

*** This review may contain 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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55 out of 103 people found the following review useful:

Just like an average Hollywood action-flick

Author: underwearhero from Netherlands
23 May 2011

*** This review may contain 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'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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11 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Great, but with minor flaws

Author: raoul-guariguata from Germany
15 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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14 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Beware of those whose path you cross... you may be surprised just who they really are.

Author: Melody Ayres-Griffiths from Castlemaine, Australia
31 March 2011

*** 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.

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16 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Anything I say is pointless- just see this film and be in awe

Author: dbborroughs from Glen Cove, New York
18 March 2011

*** 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.

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17 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

A classic homage to Seven Samurai.

Author: valleyjohn from United Kingdom
15 May 2011

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.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Bloody Jidaigeki

Author: petra_ste
11 November 2015

*** This review may contain 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.


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