If you can get pass the subtitles you will not regret it! Takashi Miike‘s 13 Assassins is awesome! The story follows 13 Samurais that are employed to kill a truly evil man, who is on the path to political power. It is visually stunning, extremely violent, and beautifully executed. I haven’t hated a villian this much in a long time–I wanted him to die…slowly and painfully. Yeah, that’s how involved you become.
I did not know anything about this film when I sat down at The Ritz (Alamo Drafthouse) and I am glad I didn’t. It was a journey. Later I discovered it is based on true events–that makes the tale even more interesting.
You are introduced to every character leisurely. (That is how the hatred for the sadistic Lord Naritsugu was allowed to fester and grow.) Each warrior is unique–from the comic relief to the fierce ronin. They are assembled and led by an aging master, Shinzaemon, at a time when the Samurais’ era was ending– ” I had almost given up the hope of dying an honorable death.” With this mission they find, not only employment, but purpose.
I loved it! From the quiet exchanges to the bloody finale. The director is known for horror movies and although I can see the violence, this film seems elegant (which I learned is a departure for him, since he is usually graphic and gory). I will assume this was a new challenge for him and as Shinzaemon states, when accepting the assassination assignment, “I shall accomplish your task… with magnificence. ” And I think Takashi Miike did just that.