The first half had some promise but the second is so overblown and absurd it could be construed as a satire on the samurai genre, traditions of loyalty and social structures- but instead of any truly cutting political edge it's quite juvenile and tiresome, with appeal mainly for fans of blood and gore.
The reason so many films want to be 'The 7 Samurai' is because it's so special. This movie is certainly quite beautiful and has nice character pieces. It's a bit strange to so Miike so restrained. No magical realism here. It's probably why it did so well at the box office.
Its disappointing that the first Miike film to be this widely praised in a while is a generic samurai film lacking any of the subversiveness that made me a fan of him. It is made exceptionally well, but without the unique flourishes that made Miike such a cult name it feels questionable that such a middle-of-the-road work is celebrated more than anything else
Izo represents the culmination of Miike's not inconsiderable knowledge of philosophy and religion; it's the contents of his brain spilled out on film. 13 Assassins is the contents of his heart, the film he was born to make.