The Dallas Movie Screening Group

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Friday, June 10, 2011

13 Assassins

The samurai era is losing it's influence in feudal Japan while the country is at peace. But the growing power of Lord Naritsugu the sadist younger brother of the Shogun threatens the Shogunate. To draw attention to Naritsugu's unpardonable acts of lust and violence, Zusho Mamiya and Akashi Clan House elder performs harakiri on March 5, 1844. The Shogun's Council of Elders meets with Sir Doi who tells him the Shogun to settle the matter with his half brother quietly.

Shogun samurai Shinzaemom Shimada (Kôji Yakusho) living in the countryside is asked by Sir Doi (Mikijiro Hira) to find a solution. By law Naritsugu (Gorô Inagaki) is a son of a Shogun and allowed a privilege of nobility. The Shogun had just made him his political advisor. Sir Doi fiercely believes that the country will be plunged into total chaos and ruin. Shimada has always sought a noble death that a peaceful Japan could not afford him. He takes on the mission to find a way to stop Naritsugu. Even though his samurai fear and dislike their Lord's sadistic behavior, they are bound by duty to serve him and protect him at all costs. Shimada's small team must hope that Naritsugu's 200 warriors have gotten soft on peace and no longer skilled with the sword. The 12 samurai embark on a training program that utilizes everything at hand, with no rules, and to serve their master. Hanbei, Naritsugu head samurai and Shimada's old sparring partner tries to dissuade their eventual confrontation.

The 12 warriors plan to ambush Naritsugu's caravan on their way to Edo. If he makes it to his clan's territory they can't touch him there. They encounter a few ronin samurai paid by Hanbei to slow them down on their way the village where they propose to make their trap. But they are easily defeated. In the surrounding forest they meet a mountain man who becomes the 13 member of their team.

Cult director Takashi Miike of Ichi the Killer and Audition offers some very visually disturbing gratuitous violence. Based on a true story the film is a remake of Elichi Kudo's 1963 black and white feature. From the opening scenes of seppuku, to the deformed victim and wanton murders of families by Naritsugu's evil, and to the last 45 minutes of the film devoted to the battle between the 13 against 200. There's arrows, swords, explosions and flaming cattle. The 13 Assassins is like a graphically intense Magnificent Seven. You honor each of the warriors before they meet their noble ends.
(Review by reesa)

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