Excerpt: Takashi Miike’s better known for his ‘out there’ films like Ichi The Killer and Audition than for his more straight-laced fare but 13 Assassins will likely change all that and raises the bar for Japan’s most prolific filmmaker by a noticeable margin. Here, channeling the ghosts of Peckinpah and Kurosawa, he’s craft a film that combines astonishing action set pieces with a strong emotional core and the results are pretty damn impressive.
Excerpt: When the name of Japanese director Takashi Miike comes up in conversation, the last words even remotely thought of to describe his style and films are “structured,” “balanced,” and “tight storytelling.” Typically, you could instead use terms to describe his films like “frenetic,” “hyper-violent,” and “just outright disturbing.
Excerpt: Takashi Miike is the chameleon of Japanese cinema; he’s made Yakuza films, a radioactive zombie musical, horror films and a noodle Western. And those are only the films I’ve seen! The man, whatever your opinion of him may be, is a machine of cinema digesting and creating on his own terms. "13 Assassins", title aside, feels like the biggest departure from what you may consider a “ Takashi Miike film” yet.
Excerpt: As Japan's feudal era comes to a close and the samurai find themselves ebbing away, a new challenge emerges that will require the attention of the few remaining followers of the Bushido code. A deranged, evil lord is perched to join the Shogun's council and if he takes that seat, he threatens to plunge all of Japan into a period of war and suffering.
Conclusion: I think we've become desensitized into thinking we're actually getting action movies from Hollywood, nowadays. Then we see something like '13 Assassins' and wonder why we can't be getting movies like that instead of bloated Michael Bay movies that assault our eyes (and intelligence) and replace real action with boneheaded CG that does nothing but make you think you're watching a cartoon. This is a real action movie.
Excerpt: Cult director Takashi Miike delivers a bravado period action film set at the end of Japan's feudal era in which a group of unemployed samurai are enlisted to bring down a sadistic lord and prevent him from ascending to the throne and plunging the country into a war torn future.
Conclusion: Miike has a reputation as a totally gonzo filmmaker, but he's proved quite a few times that he's capable of creating mature, even moving stories. Add 13 Assassins to the list; it stays firmly within the conventions of the traditional samurai genre, but it does so extremely well, reminding us of why there are certain conventions in the first place. Put another way, this movie kicks all kinds of ass.
Excerpt: Though primarily known as a prolific supplier of extreme horror films like Audition and Ichi The Killer , director Takashi Miike has proven to be a versatile genre stylist, dabbling in Westerns ( Sukiyaki Western Django ), musicals ( The Happiness Of The Katakuris ), and avant-garde(ish) art movies ( Big Bang Love, Juvenile A ).