13 Assassins (Japan/UK, 2010)

Directed by: Takashi Miike. I can’t claim to know much about samurai movies, but I think that this is one awesome samurai movie. I’ve only just heard of Takashi Miike, who apparently has quite a reputation for doing oddball, violent, cringe-inducing movies of all different kinds, from crime, to horror, to musicals. This is supposed to be his one-off: a straightforward, austere period piece about the dying days of the Samurai, complete with a mind blowing hour-long samurai sword fight for a conclusion. If this is what you’re expecting, then you definitely won’t be disappointed. I quite often don’t indulge in my action movie craving at the expense of more solemn, moody, art-movie fare. This is one action movie that doesn’t spare you the intellectual set up, or a respectable amount of characterization and dialogue. This movie isn’t insulting to anyone’s intelligence in a way that most Hollywood action movies have to be, at a minimum, kind of condescending. This one just sets it up, gives you something to care about, characters you can actually follow, and then in the last half, gives you one of the most blood-soaked, creative, borderline-frivolous onscreen massacres in cinema. This thing makes the first 30 minutes of Saving Private Ryan look like a sanitized primetime TV edit. Yet, for all the blood (good Lord, all that blood), that huge fight scene never seems quite absurd or cartoony in a way that the big showdown in Kill Bill Vol 1 definitely is (and deliberately so). This was such a visceral experience, it got me feeling like a kid again, seeing my first action sequence ever. I feel excited just thinking about it! I feel that most samurai movies won’t be like this one, but this movie makes me want to see lots of them. It’s definitely not Seven Samurai or anything, but it’s definitely worth seeing. Also, this is my 100th post, so make of that what you will.

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3 responses to “13 Assassins (Japan/UK, 2010)

  1. Pingback: List of Judgements, Anno Domini 2012 | Offhand Reviews·

  2. Pingback: Outrage (Japan, 2010) | Offhand Reviews·

  3. Pingback: Audition (Japan, 1999) | Offhand Reviews·

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