Directed by: Takashi Miike
Countries & Regions: Japan, United Kingdom
Length: 125 mins
Region: Region 2
Released: 5 September 2011
Cat No: ART539DVD
Screen ratio 1:1.78
Dolby Digital 5.1, Stereo
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Cast: Koji Yakusho , Hiroki Matsukata , Yusuke Iseya , Tsuyoshi Ihara , Sosuke Takaoka , Mikijiro Hira , Ikki Sawamura , Takayuki Yamada , Arata Furuta , Masachika Ichimura , Goro Inagaki , Masataka Kubota
Takashi Miike directs this larger-than-life samurai adventure set in mid-19th century Japan. Koji Yakusho stars as respected samurai... Read More
Takashi Miike is the leading provocateur of Japanese cinema; an endlessly prolific troublemaker who never met a taboo he didn’t want to trample. With 13 Assassins, he springs his biggest surprise yet – setting transgression aside to explore themes of honour and dignity within the framework of a classical Samurai movie. And, by golly, it’s amazing.
The plot is simplicity itself: in feudal Japan, Lord Naritsugu – the powerful son of the former shogun – is shortly to be elevated to a position of even greater authority. This is troubling, as Naritsagu is a psychotic loon with a predilection for extravagant sadism.
So, a bunch of concerned citizens plot the assassination of the nutty nobleman before he becomes untouchable, and ask veteran samurai Shinzaemon to do the deed. He recruits eleven battle-hardened warriors, who plan to ambush their target on his journey home, but the task proves harder than they thought..
13 Assassins is a remake of a 1963 film of the same name and consciously tips its hat to the great tradition of Samurai movies. But this is no mere nostalgia piece, no exercise in revival or reconstruction. What’s impressive is how Miike has managed to marry his sensibilities with the genre’s rituals: there’s an utterly shocking illustration of Naritsugu’s cruelty early on that is one of the most indelible images in contemporary movies, while the unrelenting final battle is a blood-soaked triumph of grunting, slicing, hacking, rending and maiming.
Of course, the influence of Kurosawa is apparent but it’s also a film that recalls Sam Peckinpah, with compromised characters increasingly left behind by the modern world. Kôji Yakusho is exceptional as the world-weary Shinzaemon, whose mission is complicated by personal loyalty.
This is masterful filmmaking. More exciting than a dozen Hollywood blockbusters, it’s one of the finest action movies in years.