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|Index||116 reviews in total|
*** 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.
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.
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Another year, another film, another new style of film-making from Miike
Takashi. This time, the samurai epic.
So, obviously this film is very similar to that of Kurasawa Akira's 'Seven Samurai'. A samurai is tasked with a mission, and so has to hastily pulled together a crack team of samurai, of different characters, culminating with a epic battle in a small Japanese village. All pretty solid, standard stuff.
This time round it's the pervy weirdo Lord Naritsugu that is the bad guy; ordered to be assassinated by his Shogun half-brother. This leads samurai Shinzaemon to seek out a team to carry out the Shogun's decree, plotting the head him off at a small village. And so goes the first hour of the two hour film.
After preparing for battle, the second hour is then an all-out sword- fest, with the kind of fight scenes that took months of choreographed planning rather than split-second decisions in the face of death. And impressive it is, often exhilarating as the 13 heroes take on over 200 hundred useless henchmen who politely wait to be killed one-by-one.
The first half is not your typical Miike fodder, filmed as any mainstream epic would typically be, but the second half has more of a bloody and violent feel that you would more expect. Serious moments can appear a little comical in places perhaps one of Miike's flaws, hindering from being as revered as his peers and there is little real character development here among the 13 titular roles. Unlike 'Seven Samurai' where the team is considered and thoughtfully put together, here samurai appear here and there, and little is known of them bar their name, with Miike preferring the audience to enjoy their bloody demise rather than create any empathy for them.
But like many of his films before, while all are different is style and content, they all have that little element that makes them typically Miike; mixing both comedy-violence and a sense of disbelief at what you have just seen. While neither his best, nor the best samurai epic ever filmed, it is a joy to see that Miike can make a more serious, accessible film after many years and an extended filmography of gore.
A slow buildup of characters and themes explodes into a finale that is
both intense and thought-provoking beyond belief.
The Good: The most intense acting you'll find in a foreign film, ingenious and amazing (and spectacular and ridiculous, etc.) finale, A beautiful and in-depth look into the culture of Feudal Japan, brief comedic departures are perfect, Cinematography was gorgeous
The Bad: Slow Buildup is interesting but doesn't captivate, takes a little bit of film time to truly comprehend the gravity of the situation (especially when subtitled)
It's a glorious documentary about the interesting culture of Japan and at the same time is a rock-em, sock-em action movie with stellar acting that truly is intense.
4 1/2 Stars
I found myself struggling to get through the first hour of 13
Assassins. Through that point the film appears to be a workmanlike
Seven Samurai retread, well-constructed but not especially interesting.
And then the other part of the movie strikes: an hour-long siege battle
that's both an orgy of violence and a cinematic masterwork, ebbing and
flowing with the kinetic, creative energy that Miike has become known
for. It's a breathtaking sequence that manages to capture the thrill of
battle as well as the horror of it, a line few films have managed to
In the end, I'm not sure if I can describe 13 Assassins as a good film. The characters are paper-thin and the plot isn't much better, but at least the first half of the movie expects us to care deeply about these things. It's only once it plunges into full-on spectacle that it becomes great. But that final battle is more striking than anything a lot of films with deeper stories. I wish Miike would have dispatched with the pretenses a little earlier, because as bloody fun 13 Assassins is thoroughly satisfying.
13 assassins is a typical Takashi Miike movie with some hints at
Japanese history and mythology. The movie has many stunning scenes that
will stay on your mind for a while. Already the harakiri opening
sequence is quite intense but there is also the scene of a young and
crippled woman begging for vengeance and the scene of a family massacre
that are really touching and maybe hard to watch for some people. On
the other side, there are also some humorous scenes that lighten this
movie up in a good way. The filming, the music and the locations are
also always well chosen.
The movie is clearly divided into two very distinctive parts. The first half introduces a lot of characters and features many dialogues. As in many other Miike movies, it's not always easy to follow what happens to whom and why but it's less difficult than in movies such as "Family" or "Gozu". I watched this movie with a friend from Asia and I'm relieved to see that it wasn't only me as someone who has grown up in a occidental culture who struggled with some parts of the plot. The movie gives some interesting insights at some characters but should have been more precise at some points.
The second half of the movie is a total massacre in a small Japanese village. The movie features many great sword fights, explosions and original traps. For about forty minutes, the movie gives you no time to breathe but it ends on a rather smooth note after all.
In the end, I think that the transition between the two parts of the movie happens too fast and both are redundant at some points. In the first half, there are too many dialogues and it takes some time to get into the movie. The second half starts with a lot of action but doesn't vary very much and get's a little bit redundant as well. The fighting scenes and choreographs are amazing but forty minutes non stop violence gets a little bit boring after a while. I also think that the final scenes of the movie are not touching or intense enough. I might also add that some parts of the original version had been cut for an international release and I would have liked to see them to understand the characters (for example the bandit that seems to represent an immortal ghost spirit as I read later) a little bit better.
On the positive side, the movie has many memorable scenes, a couple of intriguing characters and great images and words directed by one of the Asian's best directors. Any fan of samurai movies should check this film out. It's far away from being a masterpiece but an interesting release you could loan or buy at a cheap price.
Takashi Miike's new samurai film is very much like the classics of old
and, in particular, Kurosawa's SEVEN SAMURAI. There's a slow and
gradual build-up, during which time we're introduced to the titular
characters and one very unpleasant villain, and then one extended,
rip-roaring climax in which an entire village becomes a battleground
for the heroes and the army opposing them.
Viewers expecting more depth than that will be disappointed, as 13 Assassins is very much a straightforward film. There are elements of Miike's perversity in the hideous crimes carried out by his bad guy, Lord Naritsugu, and in a sub-plot involving a forest-dwelling spirit which has been excised for international viewers, but viewers expecting a bloodbath will be disappointed. This is a surprisingly restrained film, at least on a visceral level; there's little focus on blood and guts action, although the sound effects more than makes up for that. Still, the film doesn't need it either: the choreography of the climatic battle is excellent, stylishly putting across the heroism of those involved and the frenetic nature of the running conflict and keeping the momentum and excitement going at all times.
Both script and cast are understated in the best Japanese tradition, and it's rare for one of the good guys to betray emotion. Koji Yakusho, as the elder who forms the team of assassins, holds the film together with a performance of genuine gravitas. Goru Inagaki's villain is truly a man who deserves to die, thus setting up a story in which the suspense never dies down, instead building until the fittingly epic-feeling climax. There's a danger of 13 ASSASSINS getting lost amid the dozens of similar historical adventure films coming out of Asia at the moment, but that would be a shame as it's a rousing, old-fashioned film in the best sense.
13 Assassins is about a group of unneeded Samurai, due to the arrival
of guns from the west, that are put on a special mission and rise to
the occasion despite their inexperience.
What Slices; 1) The acting swings well 2) The story chops sharply 3) The directing is a stab through the heart.
What Decapitates; 1) Confusion.
For me 13 was enjoyable overall. If you enjoying a good Japanese fighting flick, that you will like this but it takes effort to get over the beginning. Have no fear though you will be well rewarded in the end. To enjoy it more I recommend watching it on as big and bright and high quality a TV as possible, since the dark colors are part of the reason I was confused (every character wore similar outfits and I couldn't tell the actors apart).
Also drink an energy drink and take a nap before hand because you will need to be super focused to catch the wave in the beginning.
So those of you familiar with Takashi Miike probably know of him for
some of his more over the top movies like Ichi the Killer and Audition.
This was the first movie of his I have seen that takes on a more
traditional story line and he does a excellent job.
If you have seen, Kurosowa's Seven Samurai, or the American remake, The Magnificent Seven then you already know what goings on here. 13 Assassins come together to face off against an evil Lord and impossible odds.
This movie is not really bringing anything new to the table but it is still a really enjoyable watch, and filled with lots of action. If you are fan of this genre then don't miss this film.
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