Jûsan-nin no shikaku
US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15
Country: United Kingdom
It’s inevitable that 13 Assassins will regularly be compared to Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. It’s a group of honourable Samurai defending a village against an enemy that vastly outnumbers them. This group are made up of different personalities from across the Samurai spectrum and are lead by a charismatic bald hero (Yakusho). Finally, there is an epic climactic battle with lots of chopping, slicing and wailing.
This extremely well paced movie is split roughly into two parts. The first part primarily exists to make Lord Naritsugu Matsudaira (Inagaki) look as casually nasty as possible. It succeeds in some respects as we see the evil one kicking severed heads around like a football and putting his sword in places that belong to other people however when it comes to the battle he comes across as powerless and pathetic. This is a bit of a disappointment when it comes to the inevitable one-on-one duel towards the end as we know the outcome. This first section also addresses the whys and hows of the ambush and a good amount of time is spent setting the scene and introducing the pre-maturely bald set of main characters.
The second part is an impressively executed battle scene that initially blows you away with some mind-blowing feats of ingenuity that you do not see coming in a Samurai movie. 13 Assassins kind of reminds me of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly where the old world of manly traditions and rudimentary violence and the new world’s technology and shifting values collide. Then the action keeps you on the edge of your seat as the Samurai do battle against over a hundred human shaped bits of cannon fodder. Eventually though, this admittedly impressive but repetitive melee – that takes up a third of the movie – just wears you down a little and becomes a little boring.
It's Got: A nice pace, some ingenious action, hair loss problems
It Needs: A less overlong battle scene
DVD Extras Deleted scenes, an (unintentionally?) amusing interview with Takashi Miike and a theatrical trailer - not bad for an international offering DVD Extras Rating: 6/10
A visual and action packed triumph that will delight those who get aroused by swords and Samurais. It’s well paced and entertaining however some people (me) may just find the epic final battle scene a little repetitious and boring.