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The Banality of Evil: Same Old Epic Samurai Showdown in 13 Assassins

Lord Naritsugu (Gorô Inagaki) is a royal terror, and the court fears Caligula-like horrors should he come into his royal succession. Samurai Shinzaemon Shimada (Kôji Yakusho) is secretly recruited to preclude this possibility with his sword, leading the title’s dirty baker’s dozen on a hit-job quest. Set in 1844, in the closing days of the Shogunate, the expository chapters show a world where the great battles have already been fought—so bored Naritsugu whiles the hours away with unblinking sadism. (Otherwise closely adapting a 1963 film, Takashi Miike’s 13 Assassinsshows a much more graphic interest in Naritsugu’s perversions.) As samurai live to die in battle, so the first two-thirds of Miike’s Assassins exists to set up the final butchery, when Naritsugu and his entourage army are lured into a booby-trapped boarding town to face Shimada’s outnumbered men, making their last stand. The fleetly shot climax is a true carnival of destruction, but an alienating spectacle, as Miike doesn’t find a fresh way to engage with the material when laying out the characters and their personal codes. Perhaps something important was spirited away with the 20 minutes of footage shorn for this U.S. release, but the combatants are scarcely distinguishable here even before disappearing under layers of mud and guts.

 
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6 comments
Therealmikebrown
Therealmikebrown

Are you saying all Asians look alike?The 13 hardly look alike, several are dressed the same though.You just need to watch more Asian movies. You may just start to be able to tell them apart.

Gren Whitman
Gren Whitman

Warmed over --- very lightly warmed over --- "Seven Samurai." I am embarassed to have rented and watched this movie.

Thisguyssays
Thisguyssays

Seriously? I hope they don't actually pay this guy to review movies. That whole "review" is difficult to distinguish from the ramblings of a madman. Can anyone else tell the difference? All nut jobs look the same to me...

Sct44551
Sct44551

Can you say "I smoke dicks"?

ocatagon
ocatagon

This is Seven Samurai for those who haven't seen Seven Samurai and probably won't see it because it's old and black and white. If anything, 13 Assassins could be a gateway to Japanese cinema for a lot of young people. It's a very well-done throwback to some of the greatest movies ever made.

 

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