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|Index||115 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A remake of a 1966 Eiichi Kudo film, Talasjo Miike's "13 Assassins"
finds a small band of elite samurai embarking on 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 on a mission against ridiculously superior odds. Here the first half of the film is spent interviewing and gathering men for the assignment, followed by a 45 minute battle in which our 13 assassins face 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 and tactics in favour for repetitive hack and slashing. The 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 of these films, "13 Assassins" espouses simple, even offensive values sacrifice, submission, murder, honour, servitude etc but it pushes these things into somewhat original directions. Here, Miike advocates nothing less than rising up and 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 the film doesn't really explore the idea. It's not even aware of it.
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", Kurosawa's sublime "Ran", "Yojimbo", "Sanjuro", "Kiru", "Throne of Blood", "Samurai Assassin" (1965 version) and the great Masaki Kobayashi's "Samurai Rebellion".
"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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There is this fellow with a lot of power who is jolly unpleasant to
people. So this bunch of samurai get together to bring about his
The first half of this film is set up and getting the samurai together, the second half is almost all action. There is an interesting question - never fully resolved - as to the conflict between doing the morally right thing ie. defending the victimised peasants, and following the samurai code ie. loyalty to one's master.
The story is essentially a variation on 7 Samurai, but it is done well. It is, please note, extremely and sometimes graphically violent in the modern manner.
Although this samurai bloodbath runs a little longer than it should have, it arguable is also the best film that Japanese legendary filmmaker Takashi Miike has made. Beginning on a slow note, 13 Assassins picks its pace up really well in the second half and ultimately culminates on a rousing high with blood splattered all over the screen. Impressive enough to be ranked as one of the best samurai films in recent times, 13 Assassins also pays homage to Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai in many ways & as far as the battle sequences go, at one point it seemed as if the battle will never come to an end. Wonderfully directed, sincerely performed & violently told, 13 Assassins is too bloody & violent to satisfy everyone's taste but for those who can handle it, it's an incredibly entertaining action film with massacre written all over it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The prolific and protean Takashi Miike, having already amassed a vast
and varied back-catalogue of contemporary thrillers, romance, comedy,
gore, action, drama and musicals in less than two decades, sucks it up
and takes on Kurosawa with this period samurai epic.
Japan, 1840s. It is an era of peace. A time of waning power and relevance of the samurai order, and the decaying final years of the ancient feudal Shogunate regime.
Lord Naritsugu, the preening and sadistic younger brother of the current shogun, carves out a swathe of terror and suffering, seemingly out of mere listless petulance. But with higher political office likely to come his way soon, and following the protest of ritual seppuku committed by a wronged clan leader; Sir Doi, a senior official in the current political order, covertly seeks out an experienced samurai to help rid the land of this cruel and dangerous presence.
From this set up, you can probably guess the rough structure of what follows. Our de-facto master samurai must assemble a small group of warriors to ensnare and take down the evil overlord, protected as he is by a small army of his own. This will involve the recruitment of some grizzled old fighters who have seen better days, some over-idealistic young students who have yet to fight a real battle, and of course, an unruly, somewhat comedic outsider who will be grudgingly admitted into the ranks against better judgement to make some unlikely but crucial contribution.
Whether it's Seven Samurai, The Dirty Dozen, or Ocean's Eleven, this is a movie in that grand tradition of the numbered, but outnumbered team of good guys taking on a big bad against the odds. What matters here is not that we can't see what's coming, but that this is a movie that takes such care and pleasure in the unfolding of the story.
Naritsugu is a truly appalling creation, grotesque in the casual disinterest he shows in the terrible violence he inflicts, like a child half-heartedly pulling wings of insects in boredom. He's a man out of time, no longer of use to a Japan at peace and soon to join the modern world. He only seems to engage with anything when the heat of battle is up, but even then, not to care over the win or loss that he and his men might achieve or suffer, but merely to have, briefly, any consequence at all.
The samurai , we gradually comprehend, are in a similar situation. The long unfolding of the first act explores the archaic ritual and routine of their antiquated order, the rich and complex intertwining of codes of honour, and conflicting loyalties, but also of nostalgic wistfulness for glory days long passed. It's a powerful and telling moment when the leader Shimada is shown (in an effort to sway his heart in horror and pity to the mission being proposed), a woman tortured to a gut- wrenching, nightmarish vision of Dantean hell, and rather than displaying anger or grief, his mouth twitches into a wry smile. He's just been shown a reason and purpose for his continued existence.
After that, it's men on a mission greatness. Plans, maps, subterfuge and misdirection, treks lost in the wilderness, and the "let's make our stand here" turn, with all the classic war movie / western / A-Team tension-ratcheting preparation that this entails. The third act battle is coming, and it's going to be something special.
A smartly constructed, character-rich adventure that segues into an object lesson in clear, dynamic battle staging that takes up at least a third of this lengthy movie and never bogs down or loses focus. Takeshi Miike, the infant terrible of Japanese gore, and crazed seven-films-a- year auteur of chaotic zombie-musical-comedy spoofs has pooled all his considerable talents here to craft an altogether more mature work. And, if he hasn't quite equalled the perfection of Kurosawa's samurai masterpiece, he's come majestically close.
Takashi Miike, notable from his excessive portrayal of sexuality and
ghastly violence on his films "Audition" (1999) and Ichi: The Killer,
is on top of his game once more. His next picture "13 Assassins" is a
true masterpiece since the late and legendary filmmaker Akira Kurosawa
reign supreme. Probably influenced by his unforgettable works in the
Japanese film industry, Miike is simply engrossed with the idea that he
himself could revive his notion into something bold and more
compelling. And there's no denying the fact that Miike has outdid it
gain, with a compelling story and strong performances, he follows Mr.
Kurosawa's legendary epic with a touch of his modern and relentless
style of filmmaking.
The film is a slam-bang remake of Eiichi Kudo's film back in 1963 of the same title, though it didn't go well that year. The story is set in 1844, the medieval Japan is threatened by the barbaric Lord Naritsugu (Goro Inagaki), and is posed as threat for the Japanese era and is becoming powerful. After the hara-kiri protest of one of the Namiya Clan members, the protagonist shogun samurai Shinzaemon Shimada (Koji Yakusho) is summoned by a shogun adviser Sir Doi (Makijiro Hira) to listen to the tragedy of Makino Uneme, whose son and daughter-in-law have been murdered by Naritsugu.
After Sir Doi has revealed what Lord Naritsugu has done brutally with a woman, Shinza has been requested to defeat Lord Naritsugu to avenge her and all the people who have been murdered by Naritsugu's madness. Though the senior shogun adviser cannot defeat Naritsugu, Shinza gathers 13 samurai and plots to defeat him and his samurais, 200 warriors to be exact. Takashi Miike has the wit that a number 13 samurai warriors may and can defeat a number of 200 villains, even though the odds are pretty rare. Pretty much like Zack Snyder's 300, but I wouldn't compare this one into a somewhat mediocre sleaze-fest premise that Snyder made.
13 Assassins is a big-budget Blaxploitation film fueled with breathtaking narrative, great cinematography and costume design that really fulfills the wish of an epic world for Miike fans. The characterization is sharp and develops some humor which is evident in most of Miike's filmography. Though it'll take some gradual time before the film takes off to what the viewers are waiting for. As any Miike films filled with fountains of gore, 13 Assassins is a bloody-wish fulfillment.
The action remains to be the longest samurai battle of this century, but it is absurd to look at the time when it's over. It'll make you glued to the screen and harness a great action film. It's bloody and gripping especially when the Samurais are now engaging in a killing spree of clanging swords. It's impossible to resist an action battle like this.
Much has been said about the narrative, it's also quite long and talky. It'll take time before the action to arrive. But the film is ingenious on dialogue and is decisive. No matter how long we wait for the greatest moment on the film, it still matters how great the actors were. It is a balance of diminutive drama with more laughs and much more anticipation. But what it really bothers me is that somehow the film relied on CGI effects, though it's not that noticeable.
More and more films will still follow Miike's love of the Samurai films. Having said so, the next film he will direct is Hara-Kiri: The Death of a Samurai in 2012. I'm not quite sure whether fans would think of it as a sure bet for another Takashi Miike experience, but what the hell, if he can make a good film as good as 13 Assassins, I'm already sure that the next great experience is still yet to come.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Like many of the best Japanese directors, the versatile Takashi Miike makes seamless transitions from genre to genre. The results vary, of course, but in general are satisfying. 13 ASSASSINS is the by-now-familiar tale of a group of samurai recruited to save a village. (While Akira Kurosawa's SEVEN SAMURAI happens to be the greatest movie ever made, I don't really have a problem with the basic premise being borrowed for "reinterpretation"- though one WOULD like to think that contemporary versions were being undertaken to ADD to the mythology and not just to cash in on the originality of the original.) If I have a complaint (or two) about 13 ASSASSINS, it's in the way over the top fx: explosions one can kinda sorta accept (gunpowder, and all that), but the apparently very hastily constructed moving walls were altogether a bit much- and the minimal wirework could've been scrubbed completely without sacrificing anything at all. The Big Battle is good in that it gives one just a hint of how physically and emotionally wearing just such a confrontation might be. My final gripe is more confusion than anything else: was the guy at the end a ghost, or what...?
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