With more than eighty films under his belt, ranging from family fare (Zebraman, The Great Yokai War) to the unconventional (The Happiness of the Katakuris), Takashi Miike can now best be described as prolific and versatile. It’s an appraisal that marks a significant departure from the controversy once affixed to his name after his initial burst of hyper-violent films (Ichi the Killer, Audition).
Having crafted a more traditional Japanese epic of the grandest scale, Miike returns to the Festival for the ninth time with 13 Assassins, a remake of a 1963 film of the same name and based on a real-life incident.
The year is 1844. A young lord rapes and kills with impunity by virtue of his political connections. Though the era of the samurai is fading, an honest government official covertly enlists thirteen swordsmen to assassinate this sadistic lord before he can seize more power. With the clock ticking, the assassins lay a deadly trap for the lord and his army of bodyguards, culminating in one of the bloodiest, muddiest swordfights ever put to film.
As the leader of the thirteen samurai, Koji Yakusho (Tokyo Sonata, Babel) invokes Toshiro Mifune at both his most contemplative and charismatic. But it’s Miike who steals the show through sheer spectacle – the climactic battle scene lasts a breathless forty-five minutes – filling the screen with visual references to more than just the original film; there are echoes of every samurai classic imaginable, not to mention some distinctly Miike touches. Let’s just say, when the blood spills it flows.
If you’re looking for another genre-bending, tongue-in-cheek martial arts spectacle, look elsewhere. 13 Assassins offers no gimmicks, wires, bullet time or modern soundtrack: it’s dead-serious, old-fashioned samurai action with both feet planted firmly on blood-soaked ground. –TIFF
A highly prolific and controversial Japanese filmmaker, Takashi MIIKE was born on August 24, 1960 in Yao, Osaka, Japan. Under the guidance of renowned filmmaker Shohei IMAMURA (a two-time Palme d’Or winner at Cannes), Miike graduated from the Yokohama Vocational School of Broadcast and Film.
Miike’s first films were television productions, but he also began directing several high-quality direct-to-video releases. His theatrical debut came in 1995 with Shinjuku Triad Society, and its success gave him the freedom to work on more ambitious projects. One of the most successful Japanese directors currently working, he has also garnered a strong cult following in the West that is growing rapidly as more of his films become available in translated form on DVD.
Some of Miike’s most popular films include Audition, the Dead or Alive trilogy, Ichi the Killer, Gozu, Izo, and Big Bang Love, Juvenile A.
Miike has achieved international notoriety for depicting shocking scenes… read more
A jidaigeki in a post-jidaigeki world that not only understands how to subvert every genre trope, but how to play them well in the first place. Not to mention that the 45-minute battle scene is one of the greatest pieces of action cinema I have ever seen. This movie is a miracle.
Space and movement are at the center of the anything-goes auteur’s new film.
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Excerpt: “Takashi Miike though, is no stranger to decadence on film—and these warrior bureaucrats of the waning samurai era suit his varied themes of excess, revenge, self-mutilation and (somewhat… read review
A very, very good Samurai film which builds to a tremendous battle. And not a CGI action battle but real, actual actor and stuntman action. OK, no doubt a some CGI was used, but it is mostly invisible… read review
DIRECTOR: TAKASHI MIIKE
STARS: KOJI YAKUSHO, TAKAYUKI YAMADA, GORO INAGAKI, MASACHIKA ICHIMURA AND YUSUKE ISEYA
13 Assassins comes with a big name, a certain Takashi Miike, but does he… read review