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
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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The runtime of the Japanese release is 141 minutes, for but the international distribution a reduced cut of 126 minutes was released, which among other things omits some scenes referring to Japanese mythology (such as several scenes which indicate that the hunter Koyata is not of human flesh, but a demon). See more »
413th Review: Excellent Samurai Movie And One Of The Films Of The Year
This is an epic masterpiece and is clearly a cut above most films in direction, acting, and cinematography. But what really sets it apart is that it connects the viewer to Bushido and has those values firmly at its core.
The sadistic tyrant who must be assassinated or Japan will turn once more to feudal warfare is told with verve and elan, but also with real dignity and a great sense of pace. The first hour is simply superb as we watch the recruiting and planning of the assassins. The second hour is a maelstrom of action with katanas flashing and impossible odds. I actually preferred the first half in the main, but absolutely no complaints with the action either.
All in all, this is simply, by far and away, the best action film of 2011 so far, but putting in a genre does not do it justice - for this reviewer, it is the most complete cinematic experience since Winter's Bone and is that rare animal these days - a film that looks, feels, and produces the sensation of film rather than TV.
Probably one of the better films (Japanese or otherwise) I have seen this decade without exaggeration - it actually attempts to embody Bushido and understand the meaning and purpose of the Shogunate and the Samurai - plus Katanas - oh yes - lots and lots of katanas.....
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