Manji, a highly skilled samurai, becomes cursed with immortality after a legendary battle. Haunted by the brutal murder of his sister, Manji knows that only fighting evil will regain his soul. He promises to help a young girl named Rin avenge her parents, who were killed by a group of master swordsmen led by ruthless warrior Anotsu. The mission will change Manji in ways he could never imagine - ... See full summary »
An tale of revenge, honor and disgrace, centering on a poverty-stricken samurai who discovers the fate of his ronin son-in-law, setting in motion a tense showdown of vengeance against the house of a feudal lord.
As sadomasochistic yakuza enforcer Kakihara searches for his missing boss he comes across Ichi, a repressed and psychotic killer who may be able to inflict levels of pain that Kakihara has only dreamed of achieving.
A yakuza enforcer is ordered to secretly drive his beloved colleague to be assassinated. But when the colleague unceremoniously disappears en route, the trip that follows is a twisted, surreal and horrifying experience.
In the ruthless underground world of the yakuza, no one is more legendary than boss Kamiura. Rumored to be invincible, the truth is he is a vampire-a bloodsucking yakuza vampire boss! Among... See full summary »
In 1844, the peace of Feudal Japan is threatened by cruel Lord Naritsugu Matsudaira, who is politically rising and getting closer to his half-brother, the shogun. After the harakiri of the Namiya clan leader, samurai Shinzaemon Shimada is summoned by the shogun's advisor Sir Doi of the Akashi Clan to listen to the tragedy of Makino Uneme, whose son and daughter-in-law have been murdered by Naritsugu. Then Sir Doi shows a woman with arms, legs and tongue severed by Naritsugu and she writes with her forearm a request to Shinza to slaughter Naritsugu and his samurai. Shinza promises to kill Naritsugu and he gathers eleven other samurais and plots a plan to attack Naritsugu in his trip back to the Akashi land. But the cunning samurai Hanbei Kitou that is responsible for the security of his master foresees Shinza's intent. Shinza decides to go with his samurai through the mountain, where they find the hunter Koyata that guides them off the mountain and joins the group. Now the thirteen men...Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The opening sequence of this film is a shot by shot recreation of the 1960s era original. See more »
Who are you? You're no samurai.
So what? Do only samurai matter in this world? I thought samurai would be fun but you bore me. You're useless, even more useless in great numbers.
Lord Naritsugu Matsudaira:
This man speaks the truth. His reward is my short sword.
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Film of two halves but both work well in different ways
I'm a little wary of films from Takashi Miike as, although they are generally received as good, my experience of them has been that they are bloody and very odd. Thirteen Assassins though seemed a bit more accessible in terms of being more straightforward, which in some ways then makes the violence a little easier to watch. The plot here sees the amoral behaviour of Lord Naritsugu infuriate a small group of men who, led by veteran samurai Shinzaemon, set out to trap him and his 100+ entourage of guards (led by samurai Hanbei) in order to kill him and end his rise to power for the greater good.
This plot essentially cuts the film in half. The first half of the film is the setup and is mostly dialogue driven. It is slow and patient but not dull as the main thing it does is to turn the main character (and the audience) against Naritsugu by virtue of the terrible things he has done. This is brutal and quite shocking in regards some of the things we see, half-see or view the aftermath of. At the same time it gives us some time to get to know the thirteen main characters; although there is an air of honour to all of them, the characters do have traits of humour, weakness, anger and so on, which mark them out but also add some colour to the telling. The second half of the film begins when the trap is sprung and a small village becomes a contained killing field soon to be filled with bodies and blood.
I had wondered how I would find this because there was always the potential that action involving this size of a crowd would just be a mess of flailing and blood and that it wouldn't have any tension or flow to it. To a certain extent, this is a bit of a problem at times but mostly Miike overcomes it by splitting up the characters across the village and mixing smaller conflicts with bigger ones. You do still need to buy the sight of tired individual men cutting through a stream of 20 men but the narrative sort of makes this easy (it is a time of peace with a lower standard of samurai) but also it isn't all this type of action. It is bloody but without being overly gory for the sake of it. The delivery manages to make me believe the concept of the honourable death (not something I do normally) because of how dishonourable Naritsugu is and how likable Shinzaemon is throughout. The cast do well in this regard not only to make characters but also to remain distinguishable in the midst of the chaos and blood. Yakusho is strong in the lead and he contrasts well with Ichimura and Inagaki well; both of whom are also good even if Inagaki has a bit of an open goal in regards doing a simple amoral character. The supporting cast are good and mix their characters well with my favourite being Iseya who is fun and funny even if what his character represents sort of doesn't work for my western viewpoint.
Overall though, Thirteen Assassins is an engaging film that has good build-up which explodes into chaos and violence for the second half. I don't think it is perfect but in fairness some of the problems I had with it came with the plot and the territory, so they are not failings so much as just part of the film.
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