13 Assassins (2010)


13 Assassins is a Japanese film released last year in Japan. It's a remake of a classic 1960s film of the same name, and by famed director Takashi Miike, who has also done Osaka Tough Guys, Ichi the Killer, Audition, and many many more. It seems like the guy does 3 or 4 movies a year.

The setting is in the mid 1800s as the feudal shogunate system was beginning to fail. Samurai were losing their social power, and the Shogun were desperately trying to keep their ultimate power, while peasants were dying from starvation.

Lord Naratsugu was son of the Shogun, and committed horrible crimes against the people he reined over. Killing entire families for fun, disemboweling women, and leaving them to die. There was nothing legal to be done, so samurai Shinzaemon was summoned and ordered to kill him by a rival political party, before Naratsugu can gain more political power.


Shinzaemon recruits 12 others, mostly samurai, and forces Naratsugu into a battle as he returns home from Edo. Shinzaemon cuts off several routes, and lures Naratsugu caravan into a small rustic town, where the battle commences.

The setup, tone, and execution is very much like Seven Samurai. The first half of the movie is recruiting and setting up the battle, while the second half is the entire battle itself. 13 Assassins pays great homage to Seven Samurai with the added benefit of being historical significant. In Seven Samurai, the samurai simply protect a village against bandits. In 13 Assassins, it's common Japanese samurai taking down the Shogun's son.

The greatest part of this movie is the very end when Shinzaemon and Naratsugu are set to battle each other, and Shinzaemon stabs Naratsugu through the gut with his Katana. Naratsugu falls to the ground in pain, and suddenly realizes that he's not a god. He's not some divine creature born to rule mortal men. He IS a mortal man. And now he's dying in a ditch, like a mortal man.

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I haven't seen the original, but Takashi Miike's 2010 adaption of 13 Assassin's is absolutely top notch. It's one of the best Japanese films I've seen in a while. And people seem to agree as it has a 95% on Rotten Tomatos, and won the award for Best Film from the Japanese Academy Awards.

You guys should definitely check this out. It's on Netflix Instant Watch right now!