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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.
It should just be said right now that there is a 40 minute long action
sequence that closes Takashi Miike's 13 Assassins, and if you can just
sit through the film for that alone, it's totally worth it. Luckily,
there are still more reasons than just that to catch this samurai epic.
The whole film is greatly directed; the action sequences are both comprehensible and thrilling and the work before that is equally as impressive. The cinematography by Nobuyasu Kita captures the sweeping grandness of the story and it's certainly clear why these assassins are so passionate to kill this villain. It's full of typical samurai thematics such as honor and bravery, while also accenting the struggle to respect the declining samurai genre directly through the characters who also try to honor the brethren with who they once stood with. It manages that, to a point, though it lacks the depth of a Kurosawa film and might have too many characters to ever get invested in any of them. But as a purely enjoyable action film, those last 40 minutes and the final denouement sequence will leave you breathless. B-
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Some of the reviewers compare this movie to the Seven Samurai of Kurosawa, but I don't know what movie they were watching. Yeah, like comparing Apocalypse Now to Kickboxer 4. Kurosawa's masterwork had a plot in this universe, a continuous plot that had logical elements built on top of each other. The 13 Assassin is a lot less convincing movie with serious logical glitches and holes. Is it a part of some post- postmodern reading that I didn't get? What is the point of someone dead being revived just add some stupid sentences into his mouth? The Lazarus coming back had his throat cut some 20 minutes earlier... This movie had everything subjugated (logic, reality) so that it could show scenes the director held important. The ending scene, the flowing blood from the rooftop out of nothing, not killing the prince because he has to be left last so we can have the "great revenge scene", all this is a part of a great fan-service. I'm still waiting for the review that explains all this and maybe I'll see the movie with a different eye, but sadly most of our reviewers rejoice the gore and the action, saying this is a masterpiece and caring not about plot continuity or logic.
I have found the film just OK. For my tastes it is really too old school. Directing/filming fights in this way, is for me prehistory. I do not like either films where all is special effects. But here all is just confused and flat. So many people fighting, no breaks, no special angles, direction is really straight and old school. There are moments that in my opinion are even ridiculous. I cannot understand how this film got to get 7,6 rating here and 96% in Rottentomatoes! That's just extremely exager-rated. Anyway, the acting is OK, and in the fights (which are concentrated in the last third of the movie) there are some good moments. But honestly I felt absolutely nothing watching this film. No tension, no emotion, no excitement, no epic feeling. And the characters gave me also absolutely nothing. The film is written and directed and shooted in a way that I felt just a distant observer of a flat scene.
Be warned, if you aren't into samurai flicks then don't watch it, if
you don't understand the Japanese lifestyle, leave it. If you think
that this is another typical gory Takashi flick (imprint for example),
If you want to see a great flick about samurai and the way the system went back in those days then this is surely one to watch. The acting is sublime and even as it clocks in at two hours it never bored me. This isn't just about slaying and murdering, there is actually a story going on.
The way it was directed was excellent, a thing we could expect from Miike. Naturally he's getting older and moves away from ultra gore but the red stuff do flows. The movie starts rather slowly but you have to get into the 13 assassins to get involved with the characters. Of course it isn't that simple because we aren't used to those names. Further on you need to know a bit about the classes in the Japanese lifestyle to understand why and who everybody is reacting to. The last 45 minutes the battle begins and it really never stops. There is use of CGI for the running of burning cows and some blood is CGI but overall everybody got really messy with the red stuff.
This is a perfect example that Samurai flicks are watchable as they are made by Japanese directors. Again, great acting and perfect directing. The master is back.
Gore 2/5 Nudity 0,5/5 Effects 3/5 Story 3/5 Comedy 0/5
a very decent samurai/shogun/old world japan type movie. it looks like old japan near the end of the samurai era and before tom cruise went to japan to fight the samurai. back to the movie, its in Japanese and that is cool bad thing is the subtitles that seemed to be missing parts here and there which was not cool. the ending scene is a big fight that took a long time to finish. a bit to long for me and a bit over the top. if your into swords slashing non stop then this is a film for you. good story line, cast seemed good. i had fun watching this and you should watch this to if your OK with swords killing people and blood. time to get the popcorn out and kick back and read the subs, this films worth it
After a history of feudal violence, peace finally reigns over Japan,
but the calm is threatened by the growing power of the Shogun's
sadistic half-brother Lord Naritsugu (Gorô Inagaki), who rapes and
murders at will, his evil deeds hushed up by the authorities. Shogunate
adviser Sir Doi (Mikijirô Hira) recognises the danger that Naritsugu
poses and hires samurai Shinzaemon (Kôji Yakusho) to assemble a team of
assassins to take care of the problem.
Prolific director Takashi Miike is best known for his bizarre and gory cult movies, including shocking horror Audition, ultra-violent live-action manga Ichi the Killer, and taboo-busting familial drama Visitor Q; for 13 Assassins, he turns his hand to the classical samurai genre, delivering a two-hour-plus epic of two very distinct halves.
The first half establishes the plot and introduces its characters; the pacing is slow and deliberate with lots of dialogue. Fans of the director's more uninhibited movies might find the going a little tough at times, although Miike does at least see fit to include a couple of typically warped scenes amidst the chit-chat (Naritsugu using a defenceless family for target practise, and a limbless woman with her tongue removedanother victim of Naritsugu's perverted wayswrithing helplessly on the floor).
The latter half of the film picks up the pace, as the seriously outnumbered samurai prepare booby traps for the enemy in a village, using the element of surprise to help them cut a swathe through countless soldiers in order to complete their mission. The violence is well choreographed and energetic, but with the final battle consisting of 40 minutes or more of non-stop sword-slashing, and the graphic gore kept to a minimum, I found it to be a little on the repetitive side. As unrealistic as it might be, I would have preferred to have seen Miike employ some old-school Lone Wolf and Cub-style arterial spray and a variety of severed appendages to prevent monotony from setting in.
6.5 out of 10, rounded up to 7 for IMDb. Not at all bad, but a little too conventional to be amongst my favourite Miike movies.
The problem with thirteen assassins sent to kill one person is that, by the time it's your turn to strike, the target's been dead for 20 minutes.
Fortunately, the objective in this action movie has enough armed-guards to keep all of the killers content.
In Edo, the son of a former Shogun (Gorô Inagaki) terrorizes the countryside, raping and murdering at whim.
Fearing the sadistic lord will rise to a higher position, the services of an elderly samurai, Shinzaemon (Koji Yakusho), are sought.
In order to snuff out the savage noble, Shinzaemon assembles former samurais to assist him in the ambush.
Unfortunately, the anticipated 70 guardsmen turn out to be 200 strong.
Inspired by true events, 13 Assassins is a blood-soaked, myth-laden, revenge mission, heavily rooted in the bushido code of honour.
Samurais are so respectful, in fact, that disemboweled warriors will actually mop up their own guts before dying. (Green Light)
*** 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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