[Film Review] 13 Assassins

One thing this blog (or any of my past blogs) has failed to mention is that I’m a big samurai nut. I love everything that pertains to the samurai. My favorite movie of all time is Seven Samurai, and Musashi and The 47 Ronin Story are some of my favorite books. Unfortunately, samurai period pieces are rare these days. So, when I saw 13 Assassins on Netflix, I didn’t waste any moment and watched it right away.

13 Assassins is epic. There’s no other way to put it. The last part of the film –in which 13 samurai turns a town into a giant deathtrap and cut down 200 bad guys– will really make your heart race. It’s a relentless 40-minute sword action with lots of decapitation and blood. I have seen plenty of action films, but 13 Assassins probably sports the longest, most artistic and brutal on-screen fights I’ve witnessed so far.

But even with its over the top violence and choreographed fights, 13 Assassins is more than just a hack n’ slash flick. The first 100 minutes of the film was about recruiting the assassins and catching up with the villain. This was enough time to flesh out the characters and justify the bloodbath at the end of the movie.

Set in Feudal Japan, an official from the Shogunate tasks Shinzaemon, a veteran samurai, to secretly assassinate the Shogun’s heir, who many believe will plunge the country into chaos once he ascends to the throne. Wasting no time, Shinza hurries to recruit other swordsmen to help him carry out the assassination.

This film is definitely a tribute to Seven Samurai, because it’s also the story of a ragtag group of samurai, both young and old, who will fight for either honor, money or just to prove themselves. Even some of the lines were lifted up from that movie and used in here. Although, most of the samurai in 13 Assassins didn’t really have defining qualities like in Seven Samurai. Some of them were just numbers, which I find disappointing.

What separates 13 Assassins from Seven Samurai is its villain, Naritsugu. The half-brother of the Shogun, and also his heir. He’s a pyschopath, a nihilist who will rape and murder anyone he pleases. The kind of person that will lop of your limbs and keep you as a sex slave. Next to Anton Chigur (No Country For Old Men), he’s the vilest antagonist in film.

Like I said earlier, 13 Assassins is epic. While its plot is too straight-forward, the magnificent battle that ensues in the end will keep you unblinking. If you like action, swordplay and lots of blood. Then, you’ll definitely enjoy this film.

Score: A-

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