The last time I felt good watching a classic Samurai film was Seven Samurai, which was directed by Akira Kurosawa. There were other movies with similar settings that I have watched, but none compares to the latest one I just saw, 13 Assassins (Jûsan-nin no shikaku).
13 Assassins, directed by legendary filmmaker Takashi Miike, tells the tale of Shimada Shinzaemon and his 12 men, as they accomplish the mission set to them, to kill the young, cruel son of the former Shogun, Lord Naritsugu. This movie is a remake of an old 1963 black-and-white Japanese movie, with the same title, by Eiichi Kudo.
The premise of the story is quite simple actually: Set in Feudal Japan, a well respected clan takes in a new leader, the cruel, younger son of the former Shogun, Lord Naritsugu. Naritsugu commits whatever violent acts he could think of… rape, murder. Despite all this, no one dares to defy him because he is protected by his position. A member of the Shogun’s council then hires Shinzaemon, and gives him a mission: to assasinate Lord Naritsugu before he joins the council. Shinzaemon, together with a few chosen men, then defy the odds and sacrifices their lives in order to fulfill the task assigned to them. The last part of the movie culminates with Shinzaemon and his men, fighting in a village against 200 of Lord Naritsugu’s men, lead by his old rival, Hanbei.
Personally, I really, really, really, really, REALLY LOVED IT! The story maybe simple, but how the director described it in the movie was great. Also, this is the first Samurai movie I have watched that does not use the usual “anime-style” way of spilling blood whenever you cut someone with a blade. Well, at least the way the blood flows in the movie is much realistic than the movie Azumi, not that I have anything against that movie.
The movie also shows to the audience how samurai’s act during those times and how important honor is for them. For Hanbei’s case, he knows that the master he serves is evil yet despite all that, he follows his vow to protect his lord at the cost of his life.
The actors played their roles well, despite most of us not recognizing any of them. Some of the characters are memorable, especially Shinzaemon’s student. Some also offer some funny moments in the movie.
All in all, I give the movie 4.5 out of 5. This movie is now available in DVD and Blu-ray. Check out the trailer below, as well as a link to their website.
- New Film Clips for 13 ASSASSINS (geektyrant.com)
- Movie Review | ’13 Assassins’: Swords Drip Red With Revenge (movies.nytimes.com)
- 13 Assassins (Jûsan-nin no shikaku) (Review) (popmatters.com)
- 13 Assassins – review (guardian.co.uk)
- 13 Assassins, Takashi Miike, 126 mins (15) (independent.co.uk)