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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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7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Beautiful but gruesome

Author: PipAndSqueak from United Kingdom
24 May 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There is no avoiding the violence in this film but it is also incredibly beautiful. It is therefore hard to disagree with the hateful Lord Naritsugu at the end - where he declares that the war has been the most exciting part of his life. Prior to seeing this film I really did not understand the Shogunate and other Japanese cultural references. I'm pleased to have learnt some real history and come to appreciate more of the Japanese just from watching this film. OK, some of it might be fantasy but, for an entertainment, to have such an impact on me suggests its great power and value. Sound and colour are tuned to the max - leaving the impression of great subtlety. It is a real masterpiece and I will be adding it to my personal library ASAP. Despite its gruesome reality - I want to watch it again.

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10 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

A Japanese Spaghetti Western

Author: Halsy Knox from Earth
5 April 2011

If you liked the Seven Samurai this will be right up your alley. In fact, it's little more than an updated version, and stylishly done at that. If you're looking for a more historically accurate version of late fuedal Japan you won't find it here. If you're looking for good Samurai kicking the bad Samurai's asses, this is your ticket. It's your classic good vs. bad action flick, albeit done with a classical panache. No love interests, no grey areas, just the good guys - vastly outnumbered - versus the bad guys. Beautifully shot, with some amazing action, it'll make you wish you were one of the good guys, taking names and kicking ass too! A rollicking good Japanese spaghetti style eastern.

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13 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

A modern "old school" Chambara movie

Author: mmushrm from Thailand
29 April 2011

13 Assassins is a throwback to the samurai movies of the 1950s-60s. No fancy CG work or special effects. Just guys in well choreographed sword fights, mêlées and battles.

Miike's version is slightly different from the original in the ending and atrocities committed by the lord. If you were to compare the original and Miike's, Miike's is lacking in some areas. The pace is faster and does not convey the suspense and gravity of certain scenes. Also black and white is better at portraying the nastiness and desperation of battle.

However if you have never watched the original, Miike movie is good. The 1st part is a bit slow but the 2nd half is battle. Best comparison is to 7 samurai. Body count 212. Desperate men fighting desperately to stay alive. Nothing pretty and no gravity defying swordsmanship. Simple hack, slash and stab. Oh and being a Miike movie, you see gushing blood, decapitations and dismemberment,

I hope it starts a trend where movies of this genre move away from all the CG.

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19 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

Utterly unremarkable

Author: TdSmth5 from US
15 May 2011

A man in charge of justice decides under the table to charge Samurai with the assassination of a corrupt and deviant would-be ruler. We get a text intro of some of the background info. Then we see the dealings of the justice and the samurai. Then you wonder whether we'll ever meet this villain. And then we are introduced to him. A nasty fellow who thinks very highly of himself and thinks that everyone else is his servant and that they are his property and thus their lives are his to play with.

The main samurai who is also a childhood nemesis of the guy in charge of the villain's security has to gather more samurai to confront the army of security around the bad guy who happens to be traveling around the area. he gathers 12 sad samurai either too young or too old but all willing to die for the mission.

Things get exciting as they plan their attack. Even the first couple of minutes of the actual battle is interesting. But things go downhill from there as the fighting is nothing noteworthy. It all build ups to climaxes: the two rivals facing each other and someone facing the ruler. Both of these are handled in the most anti-climactic fashion imaginable.

This movie is slow to start, builds up some momentum, and what ought to be a complete blast turns out to be a letdown. There is nothing in this movie that stands out or is in some way excellent, it's not even good. There are some interesting lines about power, war, death, and that's about it. Perhaps one has to be fanatic of the director to appreciate this movie, or love all things Asian. There is no other explanation for the glowing reviews that this mediocre movie has gotten. None of them explains in what way this movie deserves high scores, let alone why it would be a masterpiece as some claim. This movie would have to have been filmed as an R-rated movie, it was given an R-rating for no good reason as there is barely any violence and blood. There is some cheesy humor, some unintended humor in the apparent spirit of amateurishness with which 13 Assassins was filmed.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Epic Slasher Fantasy.

Author: WILLIAM FLANIGAN from United States
16 December 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Viewed on Streaming. Choreography = eight (8) stars; cinematography/lighting = eight (8); CGI effects = eight (8) stars; score = eight (8) stars; subtitles = seven (7) stars. Director Takashi Miike defies the odds (and reality) in a block buster tale where a dozen or so A-list anti-shogunate, super-agitated samurai/warriors annihilate 200 or so mostly B-list pro-shogunate opposition sword swingers! The story takes place about a quarter century before samurai shogunate enforcers were finally shown the door when a unified Meigi government dismantled feudalism (at least philosophically) and established a national military. Miike shows the meticulous battle plan preparations (including early 19th Century flow charts) the out liners undertake to gain every possible strategic and tactical advantage (and they come up with quite a few). The showdown occurs in a rural town rigged with some ingenious means to even out the odds in favor of the opposition. Implementing these bobby traps forms a major (if not the major) highlight of the film. Choreographed battle scenes are stunning. Not only do they look realistic and not simply rely on gory scenes, but fighting is edited to flow smoothly with few (if any) repeated action sequences (this is arguably one of the best--if not the best--samurai battles filmed to date!) . (Battle survivors seem to be two opposition warriors (one of whom was run through, but has miraculously recovered, and can now high jump over bodies) and a horse.) Acting brushes up against wild melodrama now and then, but otherwise is quite good. Interior sets and exterior locations/sets are CGI lush. Score is excellent. Subtitles are a bit long here and there, and can flash by too fast. Great samurai make believe. Highly recommended. WILLIAM FLANIGAN, PhD.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Amazing Build Up Into and Explosive Third Act

Author: Christopher Beeck from United States
10 December 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In "13 Assassins", Takashi Miike succeeds in making a samurai film for the ages. While the first two acts of the film can be seen as slow, they set the stage for the frenetic third act: one of the most enjoyable and creative action scenes in modern film.

The first two acts of the film do a wonderful job of characterizing Lord Naritsugu, a man who has come into power and is not afraid to abuse it. Naritsugu is truly one of the most despicable characters of any story and his twisted nature provide the audience a reason to root for our "heroes", the 13 Assassins. The first and second acts also excel at establishing the samurai code, and its inherent conflict. Should Hanbei, Naritsugu's main body guard, stick to the samurai code and follow his Lord until the end, even through the atrocities he witnesses firsthand; or should he stick up to his Lord and protect the weak?

The third and final act of "13 Assassins" might just be the most enjoyable 50 minutes I have ever seen. The action not only feels real, but is creative, unexpected, and has a surprising amount of comedic relief. When 13 Assassins have to face an army of over 200, they need to innovate and Takashi Miike does exactly that.

While the movie does a great job of building up tension in the first two acts and releasing it in the third, it does fall flat in certain areas, most notably characterization. While the 13 Assassins all have interesting backstories and personalities, we are only hinted at those in each individual introduction, which only last about 30 seconds. In the entire film, only about four characters experience any meaningful development: Naritsugu, Hanbei, Shinzaemon (the main hero), and Shinrokuro (Shinzaemon's nephew). The amount of exposition also takes away from the film as the story is generally told through explanation by one of the characters rather than by visual cues or inference.

Although not perfect, Takashi Miike accomplishes his goal in "13 Assassins", to create a truly enjoyable action movie. The build up of tension, culminating in the third act, is nothing short of brilliant and leaves the viewer near the edge of their seat throughout.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Great movie about a group of 13 Samurai warriors towards the end of the Shogun Era.

Author: Brandon Robert Gallemore
16 August 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I just finished this movie last night. I really loved the film for what it's purpose was, a classic action movie. The beginning is very similar to how many movies of this genre begin. They find the few men who are willing to fight for what they believe in, and then they go fight in an impossible situation.

The movie really takes off when you learn about the young man who is the brother of the current Shogun and the next in line for the throne. This man is supremely evil. He kills a newly married couple after defiling the young bride, and he also slept with a woman only after cutting off all of her limbs. This man is wreaking havoc on the nation at this point in the story.

Our main character is approached by the elders in his village and is asked to stop the Shogun's brother, and the only way to do it is by killing him.

The protagonist gathers his initial 12 men and sets off to kill the second-in-command. Along the way the men get lost in the mountains and stumble across a young Japanese man. This man is not a Samurai, but has extensive knowledge of the surrounding area. He joins the twelve, leaving us with the final thirteen men.

When they finally reached their destination they decide to set the trap. The Shogun's brother ends up with a small unit of about 200 men, but heavily outnumbers our heroes. The initial traps were awesome, all except for the bulls that the men set loose only after setting them on fire. I really hated this part of the movie because you can clearly tell that is was CGI. The terrible animation of these running bulls really detracted from the story. The whole rest of the movie looks really natural and has some really great shots. This was really the only negative for me. I think when people watch this in twenty years, that scene will stick out like a sore thumb.

Finally, the ending. Ten of the men initially die and we are at the final sequence with the protagonist and his nephew. They are face- to- face with the Shogun's brother and his commander with two guardsmen. The guardsmen are killed pretty quickly and so is the commander. The protagonist and antagonist face off for a split second and you think the bad guy wins. He sticks his sword into our main character, but that is quickly reciprocated. The heir-apparent thanks the men and tells them that it was the best day of his life. Our protagonist dies and we are left with his nephew and the mountain man who appears at the very end of the movie.

Altogether, it was a great film. It was very reminiscent of Seven Samurai and I think they even drew a bit of inspiration from that film. I highly recommend this for anyone who loves action movies. Enjoy!

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Beautiful, moving, fabulous film

Author: anuraagt from Delhi, India
9 August 2015

It's histrionic and overwrought, and hard to believe if you don't buy it's premise of duty and conflict, set in Miike's beautiful and masterful style. But if you do allow Miike's unabashedly sympathetic portrayal of feudal Japan and the caste system of the Samurai to appeal to you, then this is an epic. It's also a positing of the modern Japanese questioning of the purpose of duty, of values trumping allegiance to a static system, and interestingly Miike doesn't have a neatly gift-wrapped answer in this film to Western observers who are curious about where modern Japanese identity is headed. So it's great fodder for dinner conversations!

The pathos of the victims of the villain, the absurd and gory violence that Miike relishes and makes you sit through throughout the movie, the beauty of rural Japan, and his punctilious attention to beautiful traditional costume and architecture are all just wonderful elements of this film. Anybody can enjoy this movie, and walk away from it with a very rich aesthetic sense of Japanese feudal history. And so I think as a viewer you have to congratulate the director for making something which feels commercial and big budget and paced and crisply edited, and yet captures moments of ambiguity and moral complexity that make the experience of watching it very compelling.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

big samurai action

Author: SnoopyStyle
28 July 2015

It's Feudal Japan. Lord Naritsugu Matsudaira is a cruel master and also a rising star. Shinza is convinced to assassinate Naritsugu and he recruits 11 samurais. They plan to ambush him on his trip back to the Akashi land. The men get lost in the mountains and meet hunter Kiga Koyata. The 13 assassins fight overwhelming odds after converting the town of Ochiai into a fortress.

It's a samurai movie with big action and a solid story. The story is well laid out although I would have preferred it to be snappier. Samurai movies do have a lot of ponderous expositions. The lady with no arms is creepy. Also some of the assassins don't get enough screen time. There are 13 of them. However it doesn't get better than the big giant samurai battle in the last act.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Both a visual pleasure and an engaging tale of violence, honor, and tactics set in 19th century Japan

Author: DavuLynchesta
26 April 2015

13 Assassins is a film by renowned director Takashi Miike, a man most famous for films like Ichi the Killer, Visitor Q, and Audition. If you're familiar with his previous work then it comes to no surprise that 13 Assassins is a very violent movie, though the violence in this film is never as "disturbing" as in his other films. It is also a remake of the 1963 film of the same name directed by Eiichi Kudô. In short, 13 Assassins is both a visual pleasure and an engaging tale of violence, honor, and tactics set in 19th century Japan. If you want to watch a film with well directed action, then this is a great film to watch.


13 Assassins is a very drab looking movie, and I use the term "drab" in the most respectful way possible. For most of the film the screen is covered in shades of grey, while other scenes are painted in such striking color that you can immediately tell what Miike was going for, which was to show the obvious wealth gap between the rich and poor. While it's never pointed out specifically, it would be an historically accurate representation of Japanese society in the 19th century. The actors, particularly Tsuyoshi Ihara, all do an exceptional job at giving their characters a sense of realism and a legitimate purpose in their reasons for joining the Assassins. Every character breathes with life in ways that few films manage to do and this might be the strongest aspect of the entire film. We often see characters interacting with each other and making jokes in way that provides some insight into why they're risking their lives for each other.

Despite for a few quick battles, much of the action is reserved for the final act of the film which serves as a very long battle in a small town turned into a death trap. Some might say that the battle alone is reason enough for watching the movie, but I personally found it boring at parts, though I recognize how impressive it all is despite that. The scenes with actor Gorô Inagaki are easily the show stealer for me. His character, Lord Naritsugu Matsudaira, is such a comically evil bad guy that despite his incredibly disgusting actions, I can't help but love him. His cruelty is unmatched in this film and everyone, including his own men, knows it.

I would recommend 13 Assassins very much. It might be Miike's most approachable film and is a great example of blending story and action in a way that doesn't feel forced and trite.

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