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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 15 people found the following review useful:

13 Assissins is Miike's Magnum Opus...a crowd pleasing tour de force

Author: jmaruyama from Honolulu, HI
2 April 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Miike's remake of Kudo Eiichi's "Jyu-Shichinin No Shikaku" (13 Assassins) is a masterpiece of samurai fiction. While resemblances to Kurosawa Akira's landmark "Seven Samurai" as well as Zack Snyder's "300" may be unavoidable, Miike's newest film is his most mature work and accomplished work to date and shows that he is indeed capable of crafting films outside of the bizarre, horrific and avant-guarde films he is most know for such as "Audition" and "Ichi The Killer".

"13 Assassins" is set in the final years of Japanese feudalistic society before the Meiji Restoration. Gone are the days of an idealistic nobility and Samurai virtue and in it's place is a decadent and opportunistic age where those born of class abuse their lineage and show unmerciful cruelty on the lower class.

Such is the case with Lord Lord Naritsugu Matsudaira (portrayed by SMAP idol Inagaki Goro against type), a pompous and sadistic young nobleman who by virtue of his class ascends to his current position of power as second only to his brother the Shogun. Lord Naritsugu's brutality (he callously rapes one nobleman's wife and goes so far as to create a limbless living "husk" of another), causes one senior Government Official to commit ritualistic "Seppuku" in protest.

Sir Doi (Hira Mikijiro) considers this the last straws and secretly plots Lord Naritsugu's assassination. He recruits a former Samurai Officer, the virtuous Shimada Shinzaemon (played by the wonderful character actor Yakusho Kôji)to lead the team against the evil Lord.

Shinzaemon knows that he cannot go up against such a foe alone and thus recruits a small army of former Samurai and Ronin to assist him including his gambling nephew Shinrouko (Japanese movie heartthrob Yamada Takayuki), the majestic Ronin Hirayama (Ihara Tsuyoshi)and his young pupil Ogura (Kubota Masataka), Sahara (Furuta Arata) who demands money for his skills as a expert spearman and fellow Samurai officer and loyal friend Kuranaga (the great Matsutaka Hiroki)who also brings with him five loyalists to the cause.

The twelve plan their attack on Lord Naritsugu by entrapping him in the small town Ochiai along the route from Edo to his home province. Yet the assassins have to deal with Shinzaemon's friend and rival Hanbei Kitou (Ichimura Masachika)an Ashikawa loyalist and Lord Naritsugu's loyal vassal who despite detesting his Lord's evil must obey him without question.

Along the way they also meet the Koyata Kiga (Iseya Yusuke) a wandering bandit who made the unfortunate mistake of falling for his boss' wife. Together can they defeat Lord Naritsugu's 200 man army?

At just over two hours,"13 Assassins" is an engrossing and entertaining film that is never boring. Miike wisely plays is simple and straight with the story and the film's brisk pacing is definitely much appreciated. Much of that probably is credited to screenwriter Tengan Daisuke who does a very good job adapting Ikegami Kaneo's original story.

Miike's unique visual style is still very much a strong point with this film and he does very well with keeping the film interesting visually. As noted this is Miike's most conventional, mainstream film to date and Miike definitely delivers a great looking film without the excessive aspects of some of his earlier films (one scene however does hark back to his horror roots).

Much has been mentioned about the elaborate and violent climax of the film. Some comparisons may be made to the finale of Kitamura Ryûhei's "Azumi" or even Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai" but I felt it made very exciting cinema and definitely was a crowd-pleaser albeit a bloody one.

The talented all-star cast was remarkable and featured a refreshing mix of both current hot talents as well as some very good character actors from the past (I guess this is where Miike and Quentin Tarantino excel at). Inagaki Goro surprised me the most with his villainous portrayal of Lord Naritsugu and he was very effective in his sadistic role. Yakusho Kôji and Matsutaka Hiroki have always been favorites of mine and they do not disappoint here as well bringing a sense of nobleness to their roles. Yamada Takayuki shows that he is definitely a star in the making as he delivers another great performance.

"13 Assassins" in an epic masterpiece and hopefully Miike Takeshi will catch Hollywood's eye more now. This film proves that Miike Takeshi is not just a fanboy film maker but a true artist who can make films for the general public not just only in Japan but the world as well.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Mindless beginnings

Author: Richard Atkins
11 February 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw the first 15 minutes or so of this film on TV, and was surprised by quite how mindless the story started. The concept of honour, especially of people acting their own roles has often been shown as strong in Japanese culture on film, however this one takes on a whole new level, valuing role-honour above even the torture and execution of innocent local families. Yes I could see it being a slick, dark and well made film that probably has good action scenes later, but I could not bring myself to continue watching a film that started so oddly. By odd, I mean the extent to which honour was above all else was taken to such an unbelievable extreme, I was entirely non-immersed.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Samurai entertain

Author: TheUnspeakableTruth from United Kingdom
3 October 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Director Takashi Miike shoots the film well. This is exemplified in the climatic battle where we quite often switch between the constantly on the move assassins, yet you never struggle to follow what is happening, and are allowed to properly see the samurai in action.

This extends to the score as well, which shy's away from the thunderous noises we've come to expect of the modern action film and instead compliments the film, never drowning out the dialogue or action.

The story itself is nothing original, with an obviously evil villain, and many of the characters lacking distinguishing features, blending into one another. Even with its generic nature though I can't deny that it was well told and entertaining.

The action itself also shows us nothing we haven't really seen before, but like the story it's well done and doesn't bore. In fact it's rather impressive. No matter how skilled the assassins are though I do wonder if they could really survive as long as they do.

Still, if your in the mood for some samurai action then there's really nothing not to enjoy.

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Technically polished but lacks true depth

Author: thismango from United Kingdom
6 October 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

13 Assassins is not a bad film at all. However, it is not a great film. Essentially we are in the territory of Kurosawa, so comparison with that great master is in order. The references are abundantly clear, particularly to The 7 Samurai.

The director is self-consciously quoting not only some of the plot elements of 7 Samurai, but also Kurosawa's classically-influenced style, which Miike updates technically for the video-game generation. We see the immaculately choreographed war councils in classically elegant rooms, but Kurosawa's grainy black and white photography is replaced by lush colour tones. This is indeed beautiful and the technical performance of most of the main actors is more than adequate to the high demands of the setting.

Though 13 Assassins is impressive in parts, they do not make a satisfying whole. It lacks tonal structure and progression. It is messy and excessive at times. Much attention has been paid to detail, but not enough to the overall structure. More importantly, it lacks the underlying presence of the master's hand and eye which dignifies Kurosawa's films and makes them very much more than beautiful, carefully constructed stories. Clearly, one does not expect from Miike a straight reconstruction of Kurosawa's philosophy. However, with such abundance of quotation, I think one is entitled to expect more than this rather empty and often scrappy technical performance.

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Total Massacre

Author: Tender-Flesh from United States
11 April 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I guess I was expecting something different going into this film. I was under the impression it was going to be sort of an art house piece and the violence would be extreme. And, I was disappointed on both accounts, but, overall, this is still a very good movie. I see the international version is a different running time, which may mean there is more gore--something I hoped for. If you want serious carnage, look elsewhere. While hundreds are killed in one on one combat, very little blood is actually shown, a few severed heads tossed in, and that's about it. I suggest if you want a bloody mess, you check out the Baby Cart series, or Shogun Assassin(if your attention span is short), Lady Snowblood, or Sword of Doom. Basically, in the plot, you have a ruthless lord who can fight well, but is also something of a little girl(as you'll see in the end), and he is quickly moving up the chain of command in the samurai world. After he abuses his power on countless occasions, several men get together and decide they have to cut him down. However, they can only muster 13 men total who are going to take on 70 of the lord's soldiers. Whoops, I mean over 200(a little surprise in store for our heroes). A lot of work went into the set designs, and it seemed very much like a fantasy film, even though there are no mythological monsters to be found. Although probably lost in translation, some of the dialogue is very cliché, but it's not overbearing. I look forward to reading up on the reviews for the extended cut. Hopefully, there will be a lot more bloody goodness.

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3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:


Author: Mike Winter from Saskatoon, SK.
25 September 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Very average, at best, period action flick that manages to hit all of the clichés in the genre without making any of them particularly interesting. The ending battle, featuring a 13-on-200 confrontation, borders on parody, with all of the requisite slow, meaningful deaths for the heroes and the absurd dispatch of scores of anonymous villains. At least Xena would crack a few jokes and wink at the camera while involved in this sort of silliness as opposed to the endless declarative shouting that compromises a majority of the dialogue delivery in this film.

More entertaining than the movie is the reading of the reviews on this site as the 'cinephiles' try to justify why this mediocre genre flick is an 'action masterpiece'. Not terrible, but you can find better in many of the Hollywood summer films.

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9 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

it is definitely NOT a great movie.

Author: anbei68 from United Kingdom
15 May 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A summary of this film: a bunch of skilled swords man make huge efforts to behead this psychopath evil lord and eventually most of them are dead. And nothing more, really.

Well I had a lot expectation about this film as I am a martial art person and a huge fan of Samurai movies. Although made in US, The Last Samurai really is my all time favourite. And I have to say I had been biased and never really thought Asia countries could produce great movies (even though I 'm Chinese) as I have been disappointed over and over by those over used cliché story and commercially intentional crap. But before watching this film I pulled my biased mind away and hoped to learn a hard lesson to get my mind opened up. Again, I was disappointed.

Despite the excellent acting of some of the main characters (not for many supporting roles though!!) and amazing outfits design, this film still fell into the same circle that most Japanese films had done: overly exaggerating the intention of the story by making the background meaning too obvious plus over using hack and slash scenes. I know the story tries to tell me that people should have the courage to stand up against evil rulers, but the film does not convey this message subtly so that eventually this message becomes bluntly intentional, factitious, and of course, unconvincing. It made me, at least, feel like watching a bunch of MTV act which everyone in there seems a bit awkward doing things that are really unnatural and weird.

I don't mind a lot of hack and slash scenes since I love action movies. But apparently this movie was not meant to become just a set of bloody visual entertainment, therefore it hasn't done a good job to convince me that it worth more than that. So, in my opinion, 6/10.

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Henry and Kristl did not last to see 13 Assassins

Author: meritcoba from Alkmaar
11 March 2014

"Gosh," said Henry.

He and Kristl were both gaping at the large screen that adorned one side of the wall and which had, mercifully, gone black. A soft sound of static emitted from the screen. It was the only sound in the otherwise silent room.

Kristl pressed a button on her wrist watch and glanced at the display.

"Fifteen minutes."

"That long?" Henry gasped.

Kristl nodded.

"Maybe we can skip to the fight, you know the one that is claimed to be the best since.. Kill Bill?", Henry said.

"I somehow got the feeling that it will be as brutal, sadistic, gruesome and otherwise revolting as the part of the movie that we have seen up till now. In fact; I would not want to chance it, even if there was a small chance that it will turn out to be otherwise."


"You think it will?" Kristl stared at him.

"I lost you there... Yet, you know, Kill Bill. It was a great fight scene. I assume that they mean the fight between the bride and the 99."

"Well the suggestion is there. Assumption and all that."

"It makes me so curious. Just to see if it is really that great."

"The filmmakers would be happy then. They got you hooked by just alluding to Kill Bill. You immediately draw comparisons. It creates expectations without actually promising much and thus you want to watch the movie.Smart advertising."

Henry nodded.

"But just think of this. How many of the movies we have seen started out one way and then turned into something completely different along the way?"

"Well.. not that many."

"So what is the likelihood that a movie starting out with one sickening scene after the other, done in drab colors, populated with interchangeable characters, done in an unremarkable style and devoid of humor, will become the opposite in the end? Will become to resemble Kill Bill?"

"Not very likely..."

"So why should I want to suffer all that just in the forlorn hope that it might turn out to be different?"

"Eh.. because maybe it will?"

"Okay.. I can not stop you from trying, but I rather watch something that I like to watch and I think might be watchable till the end. Let's pop in another movie?"

"We got Azumi and Azumi 2?," Henry smiled at Kristl.

"More Japanese swordplay?"

"Yes. Was that not the reason we actually wanted to watch this one in the first place: to compare them?"

"That is true."

"Besides.. it has a girl as the lead and.."

" like kick-ass girls.." Kristl sighed.

"Nothing wrong with that."

"Only that it is sexist."

"At least it is not grisly."

"As if the one precludes the other."

"Uh? What do you mean?"

"There are some twisted people out there."


"I hope they remain out there and out of my mind. I find those twisted images and thoughts disturbing."


"One more reason not to watch this movie."

"If you think so. I wish it had a sassy fighter girl..I would have watched it.. In a skirt that is almost to short.. Like Azumi."


"Thanks sooo much."

"You are welcome."

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1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

13 Assassins is overly dramatic with dialogue straight out of a Japanese anime. Luckily the samurai fighting is just as epic as it is in anime.

Author: DemiRonin from United States
9 June 2011

In 13 Assassins a sadistic and psychotic warlord in feudal Japan must be killed before he ascends to the rank of Shogun. Lord Naritsugu, played by Goro Inagki, is son of the former Shogun. As such Naritsugu travels around Japan with his entourage of samurai raping and murdering whomever he chooses. When the war scarred samurai Shinzaemon, played by Koji Yakusho is witness to the atrocities of Naritsugu, Shinzaemon decides to assassinate the warlord before he reaches the capital city. Gathering a band of loyal warriors, Shinzaemon leads his samurai to what is surely a suicide mission in order end Naritsugu's terror.

The build up to the epic ambush in 13 Assassins is pretty confusing. A lot of it stems from the fact that there isn't enough character separation between all the main characters. They all blend with each other with similar dress and similar hairstyles. In this case yes, all Asians look alike. Another factor is that there's not enough close ups so that we can clearly get attached to faces. A lot of the conversations are shot with wide composition. This took me out of the human aspect of the film and I only really got attached to characters after the half way point when I could recognize them as "the leader" "the best fighter" and "the crazy forest man".

The cinematography fluctuates from being fabulous to being dull. All the action looks amazing and the the out door shots look brilliant. However a lot of the inside shots that took place during discussions were dry. It might be that American audiences are just accustomed to looking at faces with blurry backgrounds rather than seeing the whole room.

The end battle scene is exhilarating and totally worth the build up. 13 samurai vs 200 soldiers is a lot of fun to watch as the 13 hack and slash into the warlord's army, slowly and painstakingly whittling it down.

The acting is totally over the top and doesn't really work outside the context of the action. When they're talking about how evil Lord Naritsugu is every character has their own diatribe, which gets boring really fast. However it's not so bad coming from a badass samurai covered in blood after he's just cut down five men.

Who this film is not for:

-People who hate watching violence

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2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Great Until Ridiculous Final Overlong Battle

Author: pc95 from San Diego
16 October 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

For me a good movie until a disappointing ending, "Jusan nin no shikaku" really loses itself in what could've been a great finale stretching out in both time and belief leaving me shaking my head. (spoilers) The "finale" fighting lasted over 25 min featuring supposedly 13 swordsmen defeating a small garrison of 200 in the usual 10 baddies encircling one hero and engaging one-at-a-time. When I was 10 years old this might've passed as fun to watch, but realism begins to kick in and you start asking wth? For filmmakers, if you're going to make a mythic type battle make some better ground rules for your movie, like as some of the Chinese cinema at least have guys flying around so you can better ensure your disbelief at the start. There's certainly some great sword and in general fighting choreography....anyway.

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