Saturday, May 5, 2012

13 Assassins - DVD Review

Starring Koji Yakusho, Takayuki Yamada, Yusuke Iseya and Goro Inagaki.  Directed by Takashi Miike.


The samurai movie is tried and true, and I'm sure we in the US don't get to see most of those made. So here comes one that revisits a familiar formula (think the Seven Samurai, but with another six guys) but does it in skilled, entertaining fashion.

The time is 1844, and the brother of the Shogun is an evil man slaughtering innocents. One noble enlists an old friend to assassinate the villain before he's given more power and destroys the kingdom. The first hour establishes the plot, the gathering of the thirteen, and then they find a city to fortify. The villain, after all, has 200 soldiers with him as he travels. 13 vs. 200. But at least the 200 are marching into a booby-trapped town.

The final 40 minutes are one big action sequence, and it's a credit to the filmmakers that we never really get lost in the action and we've had an hour to get to know these characters so it matters when they start dying. The 13 anyway. The 200 might as well be orcs.

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