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Jûsan-nin no shikaku
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Reviews & Ratings for
13 Assassins More at IMDbPro »Jûsan-nin no shikaku (original title)

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Samurai entertain

Author: TheUnspeakableTruth from United Kingdom
3 October 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Director Takashi Miike shoots the film well. This is exemplified in the climatic battle where we quite often switch between the constantly on the move assassins, yet you never struggle to follow what is happening, and are allowed to properly see the samurai in action.

This extends to the score as well, which shy's away from the thunderous noises we've come to expect of the modern action film and instead compliments the film, never drowning out the dialogue or action.

The story itself is nothing original, with an obviously evil villain, and many of the characters lacking distinguishing features, blending into one another. Even with its generic nature though I can't deny that it was well told and entertaining.

The action itself also shows us nothing we haven't really seen before, but like the story it's well done and doesn't bore. In fact it's rather impressive. No matter how skilled the assassins are though I do wonder if they could really survive as long as they do.

Still, if your in the mood for some samurai action then there's really nothing not to enjoy.

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Technically polished but lacks true depth

Author: thismango from United Kingdom
6 October 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

13 Assassins is not a bad film at all. However, it is not a great film. Essentially we are in the territory of Kurosawa, so comparison with that great master is in order. The references are abundantly clear, particularly to The 7 Samurai.

The director is self-consciously quoting not only some of the plot elements of 7 Samurai, but also Kurosawa's classically-influenced style, which Miike updates technically for the video-game generation. We see the immaculately choreographed war councils in classically elegant rooms, but Kurosawa's grainy black and white photography is replaced by lush colour tones. This is indeed beautiful and the technical performance of most of the main actors is more than adequate to the high demands of the setting.

Though 13 Assassins is impressive in parts, they do not make a satisfying whole. It lacks tonal structure and progression. It is messy and excessive at times. Much attention has been paid to detail, but not enough to the overall structure. More importantly, it lacks the underlying presence of the master's hand and eye which dignifies Kurosawa's films and makes them very much more than beautiful, carefully constructed stories. Clearly, one does not expect from Miike a straight reconstruction of Kurosawa's philosophy. However, with such abundance of quotation, I think one is entitled to expect more than this rather empty and often scrappy technical performance.

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Total Massacre

Author: Tender-Flesh from United States
11 April 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I guess I was expecting something different going into this film. I was under the impression it was going to be sort of an art house piece and the violence would be extreme. And, I was disappointed on both accounts, but, overall, this is still a very good movie. I see the international version is a different running time, which may mean there is more gore--something I hoped for. If you want serious carnage, look elsewhere. While hundreds are killed in one on one combat, very little blood is actually shown, a few severed heads tossed in, and that's about it. I suggest if you want a bloody mess, you check out the Baby Cart series, or Shogun Assassin(if your attention span is short), Lady Snowblood, or Sword of Doom. Basically, in the plot, you have a ruthless lord who can fight well, but is also something of a little girl(as you'll see in the end), and he is quickly moving up the chain of command in the samurai world. After he abuses his power on countless occasions, several men get together and decide they have to cut him down. However, they can only muster 13 men total who are going to take on 70 of the lord's soldiers. Whoops, I mean over 200(a little surprise in store for our heroes). A lot of work went into the set designs, and it seemed very much like a fantasy film, even though there are no mythological monsters to be found. Although probably lost in translation, some of the dialogue is very cliché, but it's not overbearing. I look forward to reading up on the reviews for the extended cut. Hopefully, there will be a lot more bloody goodness.

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3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:


Author: Mike Winter from Saskatoon, SK.
25 September 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Very average, at best, period action flick that manages to hit all of the clichés in the genre without making any of them particularly interesting. The ending battle, featuring a 13-on-200 confrontation, borders on parody, with all of the requisite slow, meaningful deaths for the heroes and the absurd dispatch of scores of anonymous villains. At least Xena would crack a few jokes and wink at the camera while involved in this sort of silliness as opposed to the endless declarative shouting that compromises a majority of the dialogue delivery in this film.

More entertaining than the movie is the reading of the reviews on this site as the 'cinephiles' try to justify why this mediocre genre flick is an 'action masterpiece'. Not terrible, but you can find better in many of the Hollywood summer films.

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9 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

it is definitely NOT a great movie.

Author: anbei68 from United Kingdom
15 May 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A summary of this film: a bunch of skilled swords man make huge efforts to behead this psychopath evil lord and eventually most of them are dead. And nothing more, really.

Well I had a lot expectation about this film as I am a martial art person and a huge fan of Samurai movies. Although made in US, The Last Samurai really is my all time favourite. And I have to say I had been biased and never really thought Asia countries could produce great movies (even though I 'm Chinese) as I have been disappointed over and over by those over used cliché story and commercially intentional crap. But before watching this film I pulled my biased mind away and hoped to learn a hard lesson to get my mind opened up. Again, I was disappointed.

Despite the excellent acting of some of the main characters (not for many supporting roles though!!) and amazing outfits design, this film still fell into the same circle that most Japanese films had done: overly exaggerating the intention of the story by making the background meaning too obvious plus over using hack and slash scenes. I know the story tries to tell me that people should have the courage to stand up against evil rulers, but the film does not convey this message subtly so that eventually this message becomes bluntly intentional, factitious, and of course, unconvincing. It made me, at least, feel like watching a bunch of MTV act which everyone in there seems a bit awkward doing things that are really unnatural and weird.

I don't mind a lot of hack and slash scenes since I love action movies. But apparently this movie was not meant to become just a set of bloody visual entertainment, therefore it hasn't done a good job to convince me that it worth more than that. So, in my opinion, 6/10.

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Mindless beginnings

Author: Richard Atkins
11 February 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw the first 15 minutes or so of this film on TV, and was surprised by quite how mindless the story started. The concept of honour, especially of people acting their own roles has often been shown as strong in Japanese culture on film, however this one takes on a whole new level, valuing role-honour above even the torture and execution of innocent local families. Yes I could see it being a slick, dark and well made film that probably has good action scenes later, but I could not bring myself to continue watching a film that started so oddly. By odd, I mean the extent to which honour was above all else was taken to such an unbelievable extreme, I was entirely non-immersed.

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1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

13 Assassins is overly dramatic with dialogue straight out of a Japanese anime. Luckily the samurai fighting is just as epic as it is in anime.

Author: DemiRonin from United States
9 June 2011

In 13 Assassins a sadistic and psychotic warlord in feudal Japan must be killed before he ascends to the rank of Shogun. Lord Naritsugu, played by Goro Inagki, is son of the former Shogun. As such Naritsugu travels around Japan with his entourage of samurai raping and murdering whomever he chooses. When the war scarred samurai Shinzaemon, played by Koji Yakusho is witness to the atrocities of Naritsugu, Shinzaemon decides to assassinate the warlord before he reaches the capital city. Gathering a band of loyal warriors, Shinzaemon leads his samurai to what is surely a suicide mission in order end Naritsugu's terror.

The build up to the epic ambush in 13 Assassins is pretty confusing. A lot of it stems from the fact that there isn't enough character separation between all the main characters. They all blend with each other with similar dress and similar hairstyles. In this case yes, all Asians look alike. Another factor is that there's not enough close ups so that we can clearly get attached to faces. A lot of the conversations are shot with wide composition. This took me out of the human aspect of the film and I only really got attached to characters after the half way point when I could recognize them as "the leader" "the best fighter" and "the crazy forest man".

The cinematography fluctuates from being fabulous to being dull. All the action looks amazing and the the out door shots look brilliant. However a lot of the inside shots that took place during discussions were dry. It might be that American audiences are just accustomed to looking at faces with blurry backgrounds rather than seeing the whole room.

The end battle scene is exhilarating and totally worth the build up. 13 samurai vs 200 soldiers is a lot of fun to watch as the 13 hack and slash into the warlord's army, slowly and painstakingly whittling it down.

The acting is totally over the top and doesn't really work outside the context of the action. When they're talking about how evil Lord Naritsugu is every character has their own diatribe, which gets boring really fast. However it's not so bad coming from a badass samurai covered in blood after he's just cut down five men.

Who this film is not for:

-People who hate watching violence

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2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Great Until Ridiculous Final Overlong Battle

Author: pc95 from San Diego
16 October 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

For me a good movie until a disappointing ending, "Jusan nin no shikaku" really loses itself in what could've been a great finale stretching out in both time and belief leaving me shaking my head. (spoilers) The "finale" fighting lasted over 25 min featuring supposedly 13 swordsmen defeating a small garrison of 200 in the usual 10 baddies encircling one hero and engaging one-at-a-time. When I was 10 years old this might've passed as fun to watch, but realism begins to kick in and you start asking wth? For filmmakers, if you're going to make a mythic type battle make some better ground rules for your movie, like as some of the Chinese cinema at least have guys flying around so you can better ensure your disbelief at the start. There's certainly some great sword and in general fighting choreography....anyway.

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3 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Unnecessarily fawned over Asian Expendables.

Author: oneguyrambling from Australia
27 December 2011

This might prove unpopular with the 'cinema aficionado' set, but if 13 Assassins was made in America with an English speaking cast it would be merely another film. In this case though it is made by renowned gonzo Japanese director Takashi Miike, 13 Assassins boasts a surprisingly straightforward plot and tones down his usual theatrical gore in favour of equally cringe inducing offscreen violence, before a prolonged battle sequence ends the film.

Is it bad? No, but it isn't as awe-inspiring as I've read. In fact the prolonged battle that ends the film becomes repetitious, confusing and clichéd, and is probably as long as the Battle of Helm's Deep without actually earning the right to be so indulgent.

It is peace time in Japan, troubling times indeed for out of work samurai and ronin – swords for hire – but I guess not a bad time for those that don't like to be cleft in twain by sharp steel blades or skewered by errant arrows. Swings and roundabouts.

This tenuous peace is threatened by a rogue, who despite his heinous activities and generally reprehensible nature is deemed untouchable due to being related to the shogun, who far from reprimanding him for his constant mistreatment of his minions actually plans to promote him, giving him more power and more scope to misuse that power.

But even the most connected of bad guys can only continue his naughty ways for so long, and as we are shown more than once in the early goings Naritsugu is an especially callous and cruel ruler, and his casual slaughter of those he should be protecting is becoming perilously close to inciting revolt.

A ritual suicide in protest only draws more unwelcome attention to the area and Naritsugu's exploits. This leads another leader Sir Doi to quietly seek a solution to this problem. As so often in these situations the solution is to have Naritsugu killed. And the samurai are back in the game… The leader of the group is Shinzaemon Shimada, a noble and principled samurai who follows a code that is constantly being restated and relayed to the new members of the group, some of whom have become a little rusty with all this accursed unseasonal peacetime.

The dozen death dealers are a mix of the old and young, experienced and raw, principled code-followers and mercenaries.

Honour, duty and glory and death by the sword. Such is the way of the samurai.

The problem for Shimada is that Naritsugu has under his employ a samurai bodyguard of his own. He is Hanbei, a man that might not approve of the way his master runs the show, but one who remains loyal and dutiful at all times because that is what being a samurai demands. Hanbei and Shimada have a long history that stretched back to their youths, so when Hanbei hears that it will be Shimada that is in command of the expected ambush he realises that they are faced with a worthy adversary. Naritsugu on the other hand is disdainful of the threat and sees an imminent attack as a welcome distraction and another chance to inflict pain upon others.

So now everyone knows it's on. It becomes merely a case of when, where and how.

The where is Ochiai, and the titular (now) 13 assassins arrive early and commence preparations, giving us ample time to learn about the motivations and thought processes of the individual samurai. Thought processes that are altered a little when they learn that it is not 70 men that they will be facing, but over 200.

The battle itself is well over 40 minutes long and features some sequences that are to be frank reminiscent of the classic 80s TV series Monkey, with many assailants alternately attacking and being attacked by one or two samurai, and running from and chasing same. Obviously being a motion picture and not a tacky TV show there is quite a deal more violence, but with so much going on it is more the hack and slash type.

In true few men against many fashion no assassins are killed in the early stages of the battle, despite that being the period where they are most heavily outnumbered, and Naritsugu's henchmen die quickly and quietly. Once the battle progresses far enough that it is time for some good guys to die in order to increase the dramatic tension they obey the rules too, with their deaths being long and drawn out and just long enough to spit out some dramatic last words.

By the conclusion of the film when the 200+ becomes single digits all involved have perhaps earned a noble death, and thankfully the film ends where it should. I thought the early stages of 13 Assassins more effective than the drawn out finale, Naritsugu was truly an evil man deserving of a brutal fate, and his many misdeeds were more effective as they were often offscreen – even if the blood was usually most definitely on screen.

Final Rating – 5.5 / 10. I found much to admire about 13 Assassins, but repeat my assertion that if an American equivalent was made it would be consider merely another film, and the seemingly endless battle that ends to film would be decried as unnecessarily violent and indulgent.

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8 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Simply Weak

Author: itoslemma2 from United States
21 June 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Were my expectations too high? Perhaps. Countless of reviewers, whose opinions I value, extolled this movie. I must be missing something. To be fair, the opening 2 minutes sucked me in. Beautifully done.

That being said, this thing quickly turns into a snooze fest. The only way I could get through the next 73 minutes of boredom is by the promise of 40 minutes of movie-ending awesomeness. Endless chit-chit. Suspense? None. Humor? Not even a forced chuckle. Did I at least have a Koyuki (Taka in "The Last Samurai") to keep me breathing? Hellz no. Just dudes and their mindless banter about the strategy to get the bad guy. Is that stratagem even interesting? Not at all. Just about zero character development.

Why 3 stars? There were 3 worthy characters developed in the first 75:

1) Lord Naritsugu Matsudaira - was sweetly painted as a mean S.O.B. who deserves to be dealt with very harshly. Just about the only thing that kept me alive: will the bastard go down? If so, how?!

2) Hirayama - this dude develops to potentially be a butt-kicking machine. Perhaps Naritsugu's? That would be sweet.

3) Hanbei Kitou, a notable adversary who puts his duty to defend his Lord, whom he does not respect, above everything else.

Here comes the fight scene!! Rescue me, oh Lord. Uh, wrong again. The whole things is stupid from beginning to end. These Assassins have the engineering genius to booby trap a town like you have rarely seen. Yet, they can't focus on the one guy they are trying to kill. Shall we continue to rain down arrows on these pathetic fools? No, "enough of these tricks", let's get down to mindless slashing. 200 chickens with their heads cutoff trying to get 13 samurais. Slash, slash, slash, slash, slash.

There may be 45 seconds worth of good fighting. But at least, Lord Naritsugu is going to display some major skills at the end, right? Wrong again. The thing is about as anti-climactic as things can be. To add insult to injury, the last few minutes of the movie consist of a resurrection of one of the characters with nary a scratch on his previously-obliterated body. He is seems to be bad combination of Jackie Chang's Wong Fei-Hung (Drunken Master) and Kikuchiyo (Seven Samurai). What was that? It is the director Miike just mocking me. That's what.

The worse part is that this was my father's day choice of movie. I used to hold the edge for my wife making me sit through three hours of the Horse Whisperer 12 years ago. I had it for 12 years! Now that I made her sit through 140 minutes worth of this, I am never going to here the end of it.

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