Friday, July 22, 2011


The streak is over. I decided to end the run of family movies and watch something with a decidedly darker tone. The reviews I read prior were all favorable, but there was one thing that made me have to watch this. The promise of the longest fight-scene ever. Here's my two-cents on Takashi Miike's samurai epic, 13 Assassins.

Killing fifty dudes by strategically placing dozens of samurai swords everywhere? Fantastic.
This is going in the classroom.
I will admit to being slightly confused at times (some of these guys look/sound very similar), but overall this one is pretty straightforward. You have a villain so incredibly evil, you quickly begin to long for his comeuppance. Each scene of his atrocities is upped by another (the naked lady, anyone? Yeeesh) and it gets to the point where he has zero humanity left. He needs to die. The more gruesome, the better.

So, a squad is assembled. Methodically. Once we hit the magic number of 13, it's on. Our samurai quickly fortify a village and set the stage for the epic finale.

I'm not going to say that it's disappointing - it's not. It's just that with the director's reputation, I thought it was going to turn into something unheard of. Heads and limbs flying everywhere, maybe a face ripped off and punted into a spike. But no, it's all pretty legitimate. Lots of guys getting slashed and falling down in heaps. There are some highlights (the cattle? really?), but nothing that will stay with you forever like the curb stomp in American History X. I think he went for sheer volume instead of particularly horrid deaths. That said, it's so incredibly well-staged and executed that you have to respect and admire it. So many movies are either in too close to see what's happening or just cutaway a bajillion times. Not here. An insane finale that will captivate and impress. Extra love to the last member of the team, the Bandit. That guy was a bad customer.


  1. I liked it. Usually I think that Miike goes way overboard with the violence and the restraint he showed here actually enabled me to get into the story more. And yeah, I had a problem with the assassins looking so similar but ye gods, it's such a pleasure to see action scenes directed by somebody who knows how to direct action that I forgive 13 ASSASSINS for any and all flaws.

    Plus, it's hard to argue with using flaming bulls as living weapons.

  2. I need to see more Miike, asap. To your point, I agree completely with the notion that the understated violence (if we can go that far) allows the focus to remain on the story. I didn't consider that at the time. I guess I was too bloodthirsty. Eh, it happens.

    Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate it.