Movie Review: 13 Assassins [2010]

13 Assassins [2010]

13 Assassins [2010]
Director: Takashi Miike
Genre: Action/Adventure/Drama
Language: Japanese
Country: Japan

Total massacre.

Those two words are the catalyst for 13 Assassins, foreshadowing of the bloodbath to come. Takashi Miike’s latest directorial effort is a throwback to the old samurai epics of yore, updated for the 21st century.

Set in Feudal Japan, the movie introduces us to a disgusting and despicable young man, Lord Naritsugu (Goro Inagaki). Naritsugu is the brother of the current Shogun and therefore has free reign to do whatever he pleases. In his case, he uses this freedom to rape, murder and generally terrorize the common public. After someone publicly commits seppuku in protest of the Lord’s actions, a group of samurais is secretly assembled to put a stop to his terror. Led by the veteran Shinzaemon (Koji Yakusho), this collection of “13 assassins” begins preparing for battle against what they expect to be Naritsugu and 200 of his henchmen.

13 Assassins [2010]

Much has been made of this epic battle, of which the final 40 minutes of the movie are comprised of. Folks, this fight sequence is every bit as good as everyone says, and it is an amazing cinematic achievement. There is non-stop carnage involving brutal sword battles, strategic traps, unique weapons and just all-around mayhem. It is utter chaos, and this scene is easily one of the best battles I have ever seen on the big screen. Seriously, it is that good.

Outside of the epic action, there is a lot to like here. The acting is phenomenal, and fans of Japanese cinema will recognize much of the cast. The Feudal Japan setting is perfectly recreated and the movie does an excellent job of transporting viewers into that time period. There are also bits of humor scattered throughout that lighten the mood — definitely a welcome addition considering the eventual massacre.

13 Assassins [2010]

13 Assassins starts off a little slow, which might throw off some, and there are a few moments during the elongated battle where I had to suspend my disbelief a little bit. However, I greatly enjoyed the movie overall. Lord Naritsugu is a perfect villain, and it’s very easy to get behind the thirteen hired assassins (especially one who is a bit of bumbling fool, channeling Kikuchiyo from Seven Samurai). This is a movie that deserves to be seen on the big screen, and it is a must-see for fans of the genre.