April 10, 2011

REVIEW: 13 Assassins

Takashi Miike (Ichi The Killer, Audition) is the best known contemporary Japanese director and has some serious film geek creditability. 13 Assassins focuses on a small group of samurai and ronin who are tasked in killing a brutal lord before he can bring back war to Japan.

The film is defiantly a massive step up from Miike's insane and very disappointing western Sukiyaki Western Django. The samurai epic takes influence from the more serious samurai films of the past. Yet, seems to have taken a few cues from Lone Wolf & Cub (Shogun Assassin) and Lady Snowblood while keeping it gritty and realistic. The brutal violence is expected but is done in a tasteful manner to explore the madness of the lord they have to kill and giving them enough reason to go against the Shogun. It's slow burn of action sets up the massive slaughter in the third act which has some of the best sword play I've seen in a Japanese film. If you can find a theater currently playing 13 Assassins do yourself a favor and check it out. If not, I expect it will look stunning on Bluray.


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