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13 ASSASSINS
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Reviewed by: Mike Catalano

Directed by: Takashi Miike

Starring:
Yűsuke Iseya
Gorô Inagaki
Masachika Ichimura
Mikijiro Hira

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
In ancient Japan, a special group of superior skilled samurai is assembled to take down an evil, merciless lord before he ascends to the throne and destroys the entire country through violent war.

Is it good movie?
Damn! I just got finished watching 13 ASSASSINS and I am utterly exhausted! Not in a bad way, though. After sitting through the absolutely action-packed, super-charged, non-stop final hour, I actually feel like I was battling alongside the amazing samurai warriors on screen. The pace is so breakneck, you too may become short of breath just by watching. But the fighting is so enthralling and the samurais' motive is so just, you can't look away for a second.

Becoming immersed within the action is even easier because of the highly authentic look of the film. The locations, the buildings, hell, even the swordplay were all ideally designed to hearken back to 1800-era Japan. I felt like I could have been watching stock footage of events that actually happened. Hence, it should go without saying that all the acting involved is top notch. The fact that I had to read subtitles never once interfered with me fully connecting with each actor's performance. And holy shit, will you ever hate the main villain! Again, I couldn't help feeling like a part of the assassin team out to track down and kill that son of a bitch.

On the duller side of the sword, I will admit that the first half of the flick took its time setting up the pieces that would eventually come together for that grand fighting finale. There wasn't a whole lot of action here at the beginning, which felt just a tad boring because I kept salivating over the inevitable battle that was to come. And, believe it or not, I wished that more violence could have been shown. Really! The samurais were so quick with the slashing of their swords, that there wasn't enough time to see any cuts in those that got offed. Slain soldiers simply shot to the ground the instant they got hit. It still looked cool, but I was just hoping for some all out splashy grue.

Slow sections aside, I can't imagine a more authentic, captivating, and lavish exercise in martial arts action. Save for possibly one oddly forced touch of humor near the end, 13 ASSASSINS handled its story with grace, intensity, and honor.

Video / Audio
Video Widescreen 1.66:1

Audio Japanese dolby digital with English and Spanish subtitles.

The Extras
A fairly in-depth Interview with director, Takashi Miike.

Nearly 20 minutes of Deleted Scenes.

And the film's Theatrical Trailer.

Last Call
The hour long battle finale alone is more than worth the price of admission for any samurai fan. Match that with the authentic look and feel, plus the exceptional acting and you've got one intense all-around experience. Yeah, there may be a few parts in the beginning that drag, but nowhere near enough to keep you from sticking around for that excellent, action-loaded ending!

ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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