|Page 8 of 13:||          |
|Index||123 reviews in total|
This movie takes place during the Tokugawa era, nearing the Meiji restoration, where samurai are virtually non-existent or considered a relic of history. I am no Japanese history expert, nor am I skilled with a sword, but as a martial artist I certainly respect and sympathize with many of their cultural values, as well as the shared understanding of the warrior spirit. With 13 different samurai, it is easy for a vast audience to identify with at least one of the characters. This movie inspired me to take my weapons training more seriously, thus resulting in some nunchaku adequacy as well as some katana insight.
All the obligatory elements of samurai lore go into making this one an
essential entry into the canon.
Miike's darker elements have been toned down considerably, although not eradicated entirely, relying on story and action to supply the entertainment rather than shocks.
In fact, apart from the opening few scenes, the film is a largely straight samurai action movie driven by plot, character and scenes, which while always being entirely derivative of the source material, still feels fresh.
The final section of the film certainly delivers on the promise of its set-up. Highly recommended.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The film by acclaimed Japanese director Takashi Miike is about 13
samurais tasked to assassinate an evil Shogun lord before he can sit in
full power and be a tyrant. At the core of this is the samurai code of
obedience vs. doing what you know is right in order to protect the
This is no doubt a great homage to Seven Samurai and I welcome it with both arms wide open. Some characters in this film are very reminiscent of the beloved classic. The first half features how our samurai protagonist, Shinzaemon (Kôji Yakusho), recruits samurais for this mission and planning the assembly. We also see how the Shogun lord (Gorô Inagaki) is painted to be the villain with no redeeming factors whatsoever. Because of his deeds you as a viewer would happily see him die. The build up in the first half is quite slow but it all leads to the epic second half of pure battle. If there is another movie that I can think of with the same plot line aside from Seven Samurai it's got to be 300.
I've only seen 4 films from this director but if I can describe his films I have to say they are collectively "cool." How this film was shot is fantastic. There was an amazing scene where a "sweeping camera" effect was utilized. By the opening shot you just hear voices talking and slowly, with the sweeping motion the subject enters on the far right side of the screen. By the time the sweep finishes he (subject) is on the left side lower frame even if he didn't move at all. This says a lot on how it was thought of because you have to time these things from the dialogue to the camera movement to the positioning of the characters. The photography is clean and orderly and each frame looks very nice. The film is R rated but some of the violence are implied (thank goodness) and wasn't dwelled upon, oddly from a Miike film. When someone does a hacking it is out of frame and the focus is only on the facial reaction of the poor fellow. If it isn't out of frame it is a very quick shot. I have to mention this because there are some films that would really show to you the full out violence. For example, when someone stabs another, they really focus on the stabbing part, making it all gruesome and dramatic and a stomach-turner. Here I find the violence to be just the right mix, without it being too gory and manipulated (or maybe I just watch many gory films and I find this tame in comparison.) Some scenes are very haunting and disturbing though.
The characters are mostly caricatures but I find myself still rooting for them. Their growth didn't come on deep conversations or choices they make but it was really on the battlefield where they exercised strength and bravery. Some aren't given the focus though so as a viewer I got confused on who's who. There was a particularly cool character named Hirayama Kozuro (Tsuyoshi Ihara) who arguably has the greatest shining moment in the film. The guy is pure badass. If you watch this film you know what I am talking about.
This is a good film and very enjoyable to say the least. On top of the great photography the accompanying music does it's job fairly well. It takes you right into the action. I think some may find the first hour boring with all the set up but the pay off is the second-half. If you are looking for a nice samurai film pick this up and wait for the moment where assassin Hirayama takes on some of the evil lord's soldiers. That alone is a great reason to watch.
Takashi Miike has always been a filmmaker for people with particular
tastes. He's best known for massive amounts of blood and insane or
grotesque moments in his films that make you double take and verbally
gasp. Films like Audition, Visitor Q, Ichi the Killer, and Gozu
illustrate this point to disturbing perfection. But there's more to the
Japanese director's repertoire than most expect or even know about. The
man has dabbled in just about every genre; The Happiness of the
Katakuris was a musical, his Black Triad trilogy brought his extreme
violence to the crime genre, he tested the waters of both westerns and
the English language in Sukiyaki Western Django, and he even jumped
head first into the superhero genre with Zebraman. Takashi Miike may be
known for disturbing and violent cinema, but that isn't entirely fair
to a filmmaker who has directed over seventy productions since 1991. It
was only a matter of time before Takashi brought his versatile sense of
filmmaking to samurai epics and 13 Assassins is an incredible place to
13 Assassins is a remake of the 1963 film The Thirteen Assassins. Without actually seeing the original film, this is more of a review of just the film as a standalone feature. What I have read about the comparisons between Takashi's Assassins and the original is pretty astounding. Hollywood remakes tend to make the mistake of remaking films frame by frame with all the same story points and conclusions. It makes the entire process feel like a waste of time. Takashi actually takes ideas from the original film and expresses them in different ways in his remake. This is done by swapping characters in the scene or different camera angles. Wildgrounds posted an article that goes into a bit more detail and it's worth a look. This alone makes 13 Assassins special. It almost completely redefines what a remake can and should be.
This samurai epic is a slow burn meaning it takes quite a while for the action to really get going. At a little over two hours long, 13 Assassins does seem to over explain things. Also there's a fairly large chance you won't be able to remember all of the thirteen assassins; at least by name. Most of the movie is spent gathering the troops and acquiring samurais for their cause. Once all of that is taken care of there's still training to go through, a run-through of their plans, and a lengthy forest sequence. But despite feeling over explanatory, it is still worthwhile and fairly intriguing along the way. That forest sequence does pay off by introducing Koyata (Yûsuke Iseya), who eventually becomes the 13th assassin. The character is an obvious nod to Kikuchiyo (played by Toshiro Mifune) in Seven Samurai. Koyata is quite possibly the most interesting character in the film due to him not actually being human and his similarities to Kikuchiyo make him awesome right from the start.
The last battle is epic in itself. Everything in the film has been building to this. Lasting nearly forty minutes, it's safe to say it pays off. People expecting Takashi's over the top violence will walk away disappointed though. There's one crazy moment in 13 Assassins that comes to mind and a few fairly gory scenes, but it's not up to the standards you're expecting. The violence is strategically placed to mean a bit more once you actually see it and not come off as completely senseless. The cinematography is absolutely breathtaking, as well. Fog plays a pivotal role and the forest, while being hell for the characters on-screen, is a joy to look at.
While I can't compare 13 Assassins to the film it's based on, it did have shades of all of the great samurai movies I have had the pleasure of seeing. It even felt like a new version of Seven Samurai at times without making the mistake of modernizing everything. 13 Assassins does come off as a bit too long for its own good and has the tendency to explain things in too much detail, it is still one of the few films out there that can be considered a true remake. 13 Assassins shows how far Takashi Miike has come as a director while focusing more on the story than the beneficial expectations some have come to anticipate from the director. Despite its flaws, 13 Assassins is one of the best films of the year.
I'm a big fan of samurai movies, from Kurosawa to Kubayashi, or even movies like Zatoichi (old ones), the twilight samurai or Ghost Dog. So I was expecting something fresh with 13 assassins but I just found a pale copy of 7 samurai. It does not come close to the quality of Kurosawa's movie. The film tries to be realistic but is over the top quite a few time. The characters are just like in 7 samurai: One of them is not a real samurai, you have the pro, the young, the gambler etc.... It's just a remake of 7 samurai. The final battle in the village and the trap is also comparable. This movie is just more boring and does not show us anything new. A big disappointment for me. I'm saying all this because each time something happened in the movie, I was thinking "Damn again something stolen from 7 samurai".... I mean come on, give us something new apart from your super last fight which was honestly over rated. The manichean pseudo moral does not go to far either. They want to kill a very very very bad guy (who obviously has mental issues) and they try to turn this as a good vs evil thing... The actors and the music, which made 7 samurai unforgettable don't compare either. TO be honest, I got bored and I thought about stopping the movie.
*** 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
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 finally 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!
In the tradition of Kurosawas "The Seven Samurai", this movie is for Samurai-movie lovers. The story is simple: bad prince must be killed and thirteen men get the task to do it. There is very little background about most of the men - it's just about planning, followed by one huge festival of limb slashing, rolling heads and awesome sword fighting choreography. The last forty minutes absolutely rock! The martial battle cries and the typical Samurai yadda yadda and pseudo- philosophy (loyalty of course), are somewhat forgettable - there are better films out there, like "Ame Agaru" ,"Rashomon", "Seven Samurai", "Yojimbo", "Ran", "Zatoichi". Nevertheless, I personally liked it, since I got plenty of sword swinging Samurai scenes. But one must be a fan of such flicks to like 13 Assassins.
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.
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.
Similar to the western story of 300, 13 Assassins tells the tale of 12
samurai & 1 forest bandit and their elaborate scheme to murder a
sadistic and evil lord, Naritsugu (who you will grow to abhor - Goro
Inagaki does an incredible job of portraying him).
My impression upon the first hour and fifteen minutes of the film were pure brilliance. The film is filled with beautiful imagery that captures the essence of feudal Japan. There is a clear internal conflict within the characters regarding duty, honour, and what is right in a system so tightly dictated by a social code. The first 10-15 minutes of the battle scenes are well choreographed and incredible to watch.
Now, here's where the "blur" part comes in. Typical of a 1 vs. 1000 fight scene, the one-on-one battle scenes are a blur. I watched with some level of confusion of who is who, and what's going on... and at that point, the film slips from sheer brilliance to cliché, reminiscent of 300. And then bam.... it's all done...
I'll need to watch more samurai films to compare, but my overall opinion is the film shines in some scenes, but turns into a chaotic whirlwind more than halfway through... Still a good watch though.
|Page 8 of 13:||          |
|External reviews||Parents Guide||Official site|
|Plot keywords||Main details||Your user reviews|
|Your vote history|