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|Index||119 reviews in total|
As much as we hate to admit, violence is entertaining. Why else would
the WWE be so popular? One might even agree that violence is in itself,
entertainment. Witnessing the madness and chaos that are involved in an
act of physical violence is both thrilling and arresting simply because
they are out of place in most of our 9-5, middle-class, democratically-
governed realities. In other words, through it we find escapism. Not
only that, appealing to the cavemen (and cavewomen) in us all, there is
a sense of liberation too in watching violence. When a movie opens with
a realistic cringe-inducing scene of a man performing the infamous
hara-kiri or self-disembowelment, you know that you are in for a treat.
Despite the historical and cultural contexts which might be unfamiliar
to some, the epic film stays dedicated to engage the audience. With
scenes involving exploding bodies followed by showers of blood (yes,
they do have bombs during the feudal times), hacked limbs and rolling
heads, the explicit no-holds-barred violence is intended to surprise
yet fascinate the audience with morbid, unthinkable gore that are not
out of place in contemporary horror movies like the Saw franchise.
At the heart of all the madness in this film is the evil Lord Naritsugu. Used to not hearing no to every destructive whim and fancy thanks to his ties to the shogunate, he develops a nihilistic complex that is so extreme that the only sane reaction would be nervous laughter. Well, at least that was what the writer found herself doing. Without giving away the details, the lord rapes, tortures and kills just for kicks. He even eats a whole fish with his face buried in it. Ermm, yeah. Set to take over the reins of feudal Japan, he worries all those who still believe in hope and justice. Enter the 13 Assassins a band of samurais who are keen on posing a much-delayed challenge to the insane lord with the intention of defeating him.
One should be wary to simply label the film as a mindless samurai bloodfest. Coupled with a classic good versus evil plot are insights into a world that is exclusive to those who are born in it. Directed by Takashi Miike who is probably most well-known for his ultraviolent controversial film Ichi the Killer, 13 assassins serves to explore with meaning the ways of the samurai. In an age where samurai heroics are dying and kept strictly to the dojo, the audience is posed with questions regarding the strict nature of the samurai lifestyle and its complex repercussions to society and the samurai himself. Known for their loyalty to their cause, the film asks if a good samurai can still be respected for his loyalty even if his cause is bad.
Spanning two hours, the film takes its time to deliver both a subtext- filled story and entertainment to the audience. And from that, you should take the cue to prepare yourselves for a 45 minute long battle scene that is nothing short of epic.
The plot here is basically about 13 assassins getting together in order
to defeat a evil dictator or tyrant. His way of getting what he wants
no matter who he kills or rapes makes you really loath him. The plot
may seem very simple but it's the execution of it all that really
drives this movie. This really is a entertaining flick that adds to the
excitement with good action scenes and because it makes you believe in
their cause to fight. This is a brutal movie but it's difficult not to
be against the brutality the assassins dish out. The task at hand may
come off simple at first but leads to a lot more, however the constant
reference to the way of the samurai or samurai code gets overused a bit
and gets overplayed. While not giving something new that most warriors
in general follows. The build up is done well enough and the sword
fighting sequences are cool because of it's method and tactics before
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
13 Assassins, a Golden Lion nominee at Venice, is a sumptuously
photographed film that is excellently set-up by the filmmakers,
features an action-packed second half whose intensity rivals that of
the climatic hospital sequence in John Woo's shoot-'em-up masterpiece
Hard Boiled (1992), and ends on a slightly ambiguous note that
unfortunately feels a tad too surreal for a film that is anything but.
Directed by Takashi Miike, the infamous director of insanely violent
films such as Dead or Alive (1999), Audition (2000), and Ichi the
Killer (2001), 13 Assassins is surprisingly tame in comparison, though
I must say the decision not to make this a gore fest is spot on.
The premise is as simple as it can be: Lord Naritsugu (Goro Inagaki) is the evil younger brother of the current Shogun who enjoys torturing and killing women and children to satisfy his weird desire for violence and lust. A group of samurais, led by Shinzaemon (Koji Yakusho), is hired to assassinate him before he ascends politically to the top and declares war on peaceful clans. The mission is extremely tough because Lord Naritsugu is protected by hundreds of men and a master samurai called Hanbei (Masachika Ichimura), who trained with Shinzaemon when they were apprentices, adding a layer of intrigue.
The villainous nature of Lord Naritsugu is depicted very well. Early scenes show his cruelty, in particular a vile scene that sees him shoot arrows at a family that is tied up, including a small boy. There is also a very disturbing scene featuring a nude woman with all her limbs severed, with a character explaining how she is used as a sexual plaything. The soulless eyes of actor Inagaki and his lack of emotion towards human suffering are very effective in building a strong sense of hatred for his character.
In comparison, there is no one strong protagonist, though Shinzaemon comes close. Like Kurosawa's Seven Samurai (1954), the samurais in Miike's film are collectively portrayed as both battle-hardened tacticians with skills to outwit any foe and overly enthusiastic warriors who know the meaning of sacrifice. But unlike Kurosawa's masterpiece, each samurai's personality in 13 Assassins, with the exception of Shinzaemon, is developed only minimally and enough for the function of plot. Very predictably, there is the requisite sword duel in the climax, which gives us a relatively quiet moment of calm in what is a loud and chaotic second hour that while relentlessly entertaining, may be a trifle too overwhelming for some.
In a nutshell, 13 Assassins is guilty pleasure for seekers of violent action who are patient enough to wait for its execution. This Miike film is well-directed and should provide an interesting alternative to the loud fanfare of Hollywood summer blockbusters.
GRADE: B+ (8/10 or 3.5 stars)
All rights reserved.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A remake of a 1966 Eiichi Kudo film, Takashi Miike's "13 Assassins"
finds a small band of elite samurai embarking upon a mission to
assassinate the sadistic young Lord Naritsugu.
The film belongs firmly to the "men on a mission" genre ("The Dirty Dozen", "Ocean's Eleven", "Seven Samurai", "300", "The Magnificent Seven" notice a trend?), in which a leader typically puts together a team of misfits and specialists and then embarks upon a mission against ridiculously superior odds. Here the first half of Miike's film is spent interviewing and gathering men for the assignment, followed by a 45 minute battle in which our 13 assassins square off against hundreds of enemy soldiers. It's a Pekinpah/Spielberg inspired bloodbath, in which our heroes nobly accomplish their mission, before themselves dying.
In terms of flaws, the film's script lacks surprise, and Miike too often ignores strategy in favour for repetitive hack and slashing. Miike's battles themselves lack spatial sense, and are often unrealistic. The film does eventually win us over with its sheer, bloody relentlessness, but a better director would have added a more tactical, and intellectual kick and thereby more drama to the wordy, political battles of the film's first half, and bloody physical battles of the second.
Like most samurai films, "13 Assassins" espouses simple, even offensive values sacrifice, submission, murder, honour, servitude etc though it eventually pushes past such things and enters somewhat original territory. Here, Miike's ragged band of heroes advocate nothing less than making your own leaders bleed before they get into power. Only with this asserted pressure, this constant threat of force, will they then govern with fairness. It's an interesting idea - reverse dictatorship, where the populace governs its rulers with fear? but one which the film has no real interest exploring.
7.9/10 Worth one viewing. See instead: "Twilight Samurai", "Hara-kiri", "The Seven Samurai", Hiroshi Inagaki's "Samurai Trilogy", "The Hidden Blade", "47 Ronin", "Yojimbo", "Sanjuro", "Kiru", "Throne of Blood", "Goyokin" (1969), "Chushingura" (1962), "Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance", "Samurai Assassin" (1965 version), Kurosawa's sublime "Ran", and the great Masaki Kobayashi's "Samurai Rebellion".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
First 15 minutes: The half-brother of the Shogun is a stereotypical Japanese psychopath who likes killing and maiming his servants for sport. He'll soon be promoted to some Council where he'll have more power to do bad things. Therefore he needs to be assassinated. Let's call him Bad Boy.
Next 30 minutes: Recruitment of the 13 Assassins.
Next 30-40 minutes: Bad Boy is travelling from some part of Japan to another part of Japan. 13 Assassins plan their attack. They buy over some village that they know Bad Boy will pass by. and set it up Home Alone-style.
Final 1 hour: Bloodbath. And surprise, surprise! Bad Boy gets killed in the end!! End of movie.
Review: Everything is utterly predictable and stereotypical. Bad Boy is just the usual psychopath. The samurai assassins are your usual samurai. The story develops EXACTLY as predicted. Nothing interesting. No character development, no nuances, nothing.
When it finally gets to the bloodbath you are a little relieved because it has been a total bore so far. The initial Home Alone-style surprise attacks and explosives are somewhat amusing.
But when it gets to hand-on-hand (sword) combat it is just STUPID. The sword fighting had all the realism of a bad 1970's Hong Kong movie. All the bad guys (supposedly 130 of them) just dicking around, hovering in the background, while each assassin gets to pick off the bad guys one at a time. Each bad guy waits patiently for his turn in the queue to get sliced up.
"As a samurai in this era of peace I've been wishing for a noble death,
now fate has called me here." After being told of the horrors of the
evil Lord Naritsugu Matsudaira (Inagaki), Shinzaemon Shimada (Yakusho)
recruits a group of 13 samurai to stage a suicide mission and kill him.
As I have said before I am not a big fan of martial arts type movies.
While this was more of a strict samurai movie, I have to say this movie
was excellent. Not knowing much of the history behind the samurai I was
surprised to learn how guerrilla like their tactics were. The first
half of the movie is a little, not slow necessarily but more deliberate
in the pacing. It involves the reasons why Lord Naritsugu must be
killed and the training. When the actual battle starts you will be glad
you watched. The choreography is artfully done and the fighting is
very, very brutal, but in a way that it's not in your face bloody.
Very, very well done. For anyone that loves these type of movies this
will probably be one of the greatest movies they have ever seen. For
someone like me that is not a big fan of this genre it is still an
excellent movie and actually makes me want to see more movies like
this. Overall, a very well done samurai movie that will appeal to all
audiences, not just the martial arts crowd. I give it a A-.
Would I watch again? - I think I actually might.
*Also try - Legend Of The Fist & Hero
"A group of assassins come together for a suicide mission to kill an
And that's it. The most succinct yet accurate and appropriately detailed plot summary I've read lately on IMDb.
The fight choreography was fantastic.
Review done. There was nothing more to it. No character development, no plot twists, no turns or surprises - nothing.
The cruelty of the evil lord was most memorable and sometimes, I felt, given the film's almost total lack of depth, gratuitous. In fact, the problem with the evil lord was he was SO evil death was too good for him! So that left you holding the bag when it came time to resolve all that you'd seen from him.
The (very) ending was great. It SORT OF made up for the evil lord but not quite.
All-in-all the film was entertaining.
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.
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.
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
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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