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13 Assassins


Jeff Nelson

13 Assassins is worthy of the hype it has received.

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The big blockbusters that are released in the United States rarely have anything to do with the foreign market. Arguably one of the most well-known filmmakers from Japan, Takashi Miike, has tackled multiple genres with typically good results. While I haven't seen all of his work, each piece he creates is different than the last. 13 Assassins is another addition to Miike's wide range of film making styles. When Takashi Miike is releasing a movie, audiences should expect to see something different and possibly a bit disturbing. He takes his time in order to develop each of his characters and tell a story that will keep viewers glued to the screen. However, the samurai genre appears to be an acquired taste.

To stop a tyrant from massacring innocent civilians, 13 samurai warriors unite and prepare to kill him. In order to murder him, the assassins must fight an army of deadly bodyguards who outnumber them by a large margin. From a distance, this seems similar to any other cliché samurai affair. Fans of the genre may find portions of the movie to be commonplace. Putting that aside, there's a lot of depth to the characters and the plot itself. The first hour of the running time is put towards introducing the characters and creating a well-crafted story line. The second hour consists of an intense climax that any action fan will be pleased with. There aren't many twists and turns that viewers won't see coming. Those who are looking for a well-made samurai film with a strong script will be just as pleased as those looking for a violent and brutal battle. Takashi Miike is famous for going over-the-top with some of his violence, so those who have a weak stomach have been warned.

Takashi Miike's 13 Assassins stands above many of the other samurai movies with the believable acting. Takashi Miike's direction over this cast is quite powerful. Each one of the assassins provides natural performances. Not only are they entertaining during the exciting action scenes, but are engrossing during the more emotional moments during the buildup. Even though I don't understand the Japanese language, each actor captured his character.

Once the extreme battle scene begins, the film never lets up. The giant samurai fight is magnificent, to say the least. As previously mentioned, the violence is shown as is. Those who are a bit squeamish may find this to be too vicious for them. For those who wait for the first hour to finish in order to see this fight will find the wait to be worth it. There are enough explosions, sword fights, blood, and inventive combat to satisfy even the biggest of action fans. My only complaint is that Takashi Miike resorted to CGI to develop a few of the FX, which wasn't incorporated well. The audio is absolutely fantastic. While the dialogue sits in the center channel, the surrounds are constantly active. During the climax, each speaker is given quite a workout. The subwoofer delivers powerful and tight bass during the explosions and moving of the walls. You'll want to crank the sound up for this one.

While I admit that I'm not a big fan of samurai films, I genuinely enjoyed 13 Assassins. Some audiences may find the first hour to be a bit slow, it leads up to the battle scene very well. Takashi Miike has impressed me yet again. Even though this wouldn't be my type of film, it managed to keep my attention from start to finish. For those who don't enjoy a high amount of brutality are sure to be put off quite a bit. The samurai fans out there are sure to have an absolute blast with this piece of cinema. 13 Assassins is worthy of the hype it has received.

My Rating = Four Stars

Next movie: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
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