15 - 141mins - Action/Adventure/Drama - 6th May 2011
Being the film buff that I like to pretend I am, I am still yet to see Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai- a work that has supposedly spawned many films since and is widely regarded as one of the first films to introduce plot structures such as recruiting a group of characters to to accomplish a specific goal and having a main hero undertake a task unrelated to the main plot. 13 Assassins leans on this movie which it has clearly been influenced by.
The story follows the efforts of a group of samurai as they aim to assassinate the evil Lord Naritsugu (Gorô Inagaki) whose malevolence and monstrosities against his people know no bounds. Unable to touch Naritsugu due to his links with the former and current shogun , a senior politician realises that he has to be stopped before he obtains a higher rank and becomes an even more dangerous threat. He secretly enlists the help of a trusted samurai Shinzaemon Shimada (Kôji Yakusho) to gather a group of samurai together with the task of eliminating Naritsugu.
Despite me not being the best judge of the way of the samurai, I was not born in the 1840's in Japan, I felt that 13 Assassins portrayed what it could well have been like during that time. Setting the film in a time of relative peace was a good choice as it meant many of the samurai had no real life combat experience or know-how which gave them more depth- they are trained killing machines and yet for some of them, they have never even killed.
The main draw of this movie is the combat sequences and action shots which are impressive to say the least. The whole movie is basically enacting out one long battle scene with the first half setting up the characters and the last hour being dedicated to the massive battle scene. There is quite a bit of gore to keep an eye out for in both the fighting scenes and others with many limbs being severed and plenty of guts on show. The fighting scenes are well done although if I had to find fault, I would say at points it did feel as it the samurai were fighting wave after wave of enemies leading to it feeling a bit 'samey' and instead of heading straight for Naritsugu the samurai felt compelled to slash their way through the footmen first when they could have gone for him straight away. But that's just me nitpicking.
The number of unfamiliar Japanese names being mentioned along with the fact that the samurai are all wearing similar attire and have the same haircut whilst having to spend time reading subtitles rather than watching can lead to some confusion. This does fall away though while the movie progresses as the characters take on more individual personalities especially within the samurai group.
Credit must go to director Takashi Miike who not only has created a beautiful movie in terms of cinematography and direction but also has brought the honour, tradition and way of life of the samurai and Japanese culture to the viewer in emphatic fashion. Awesome fight scene, solid acting and the ability to not shy away from the gore lead me to give this a...
For further reviews feel free to check out: http://www.fanaticalaboutfilms.com or follow this site on Twitter @ FAbFilms