13 Assassins made its debut at the 2011 Wisconsin Film Festival in late March, and I am still kicking myself for not seeing it then.
This is a machismo period piece about a group of unemployed samurai warriors who come together to stop an evil lord from climbing to power.
As samurai movies go, this one seems to stand out amongst the rest. There are massive battle scenes, but these seem to hold a much grittier and realistic feel to them. Warriors are not flying from rooftop to rooftop on hidden wires. They are duking it out on the ground and you feel their fatigue set in as the battle rages on.
There is much bravado dialogue in the film too. Just like William Wallace spoke to rally his troops before the Braveheart battle scenes, 13 Assassins doesn’t fall short on memorable lines. Upon accepting the task to take down the evil lord, the leader of the samurai Shinzaemon Shimada shouts “I shall accomplish your task, with magnificence.” If only we had that type of motivation every day. Think of how far we’d go in life.
The first act involving the recruitment of the samurai progressed a little slower than I prefer, but the payoff was large. It comes in the form of one of the most detailed and believable ambush fight scenes I’ve seen on screen lately.
13 Assassins is sure to satisfy your battle-born bloodlust and leave you a wiser film viewer. The cinematography is above par. The direction is magnificent because you feel a connection to this group of men. You are rooting for their success and feel heartbroken when things don’t go right for them.
This film is also currently available On Demand on some cable systems. It’s well worth a viewing.