13 Assassins (2010)

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When it comes to Samurai films 13 Assassins is #2 on my list, right after Seven Samurai then followed by 47 Ronin. 13 Assassins is a  jidaigeki (period drama) film which takes place in the 1840s during the Tokugawa era. 13 Assassins is a remake of the 1963 movie of the same name, I have not seen the original so I can not make any comments on how the two compare. I can say that the 2010 version is an electrifying spectacle of raw action! The plot is also very tight, it sticks to what it is suppose to be and doesn’t stray down useless subplots.

Much like Seven Samurai the first half of the film is the gathering of cast while the second half is non stop action. I really don’t want to get into the plot any more than that. The film has gotten rave reviews and I’ve yet to see a negative comment about the film.  If you like Samurai films, heavy action films then 13 Assassins if for you.

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Takashi Miike, Director

Kōji Yakusho (Memoirs of a Geisha, The Last Ronin, A Samurai Chronicle) as Shimada Shinzaemon – The leader of the group, a war weary, decorated samurai who believes that there is more to Bushido than blind obedience. Having believed that there was no chance for an honorable death, he is deeply elated when hired to carry out the mission.
Hiroki Matsukata (Shogun’s Samurai, Ichi) as Kuranaga Saheita – Second in command to Shinzaemon, another veteran samurai who volunteers his best and most trusted students to join the group.
Sōsuke Takaoka (Battle Royale, Zatoichi: The Last) as Hioki Yasokichi – A highly skilled samurai from Kuranaga’s dojo.
Seiji Rokkaku (Samurai Hustle) as Ōtake Mosuke – A plump-faced samurai with a jovial demeanor, but remains a tenacious fighter.
Kōen Kondō (The Hidden Blade) as Horii Yahachi – A skilled samurai from Kuranaga’s dojo who trained with Gennai in the use of explosives.
Yūma Ishigaki (Azumi I & II) as Higuchi Gennai – Horii’s demolition partner, a tough and skilled samurai who trained with Yahachi in the use of explosives.
Ikki Sawamura as Mitsuhashi Gunjirō – Another samurai from Kuranaga’s dojo who prepares Ochiai to trap their victim.
Tsuyoshi Ihara (Shadow Warriors tv series, Last Knights) as Hirayama Kujūrō – A ronin of unmatched swordsmanship, who trained under Shinzaemon.
Masataka Kubota (Rurouni Kenshin, Death Note) as Ogura Shōujirō – A young samurai disciple of Hirayama, untested in battle but with unwavering devotion and skills to match.
Takayuki Yamada as Shimada Shinrokurō – Shinzaemon’s nephew, he has strayed from Bushido to become a gambler and a womanizer. Bored and ashamed, he joins the mission to redeem himself.
Kazuki Namioka (Space Battleship Yamato, Kamen Rider Gaim) as Ishizuka Rihei – A skilled and courageous samurai who joined the mission with Sahara.
Arata Furuta as Sahara Heizō – An elder ronin, battle scarred and hardened, who favors the yari (spear) over the katana (sword).
Yūsuke Iseya (Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends, Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno) as Kiga Koyata – A hunter who is found suspended in a cage in the forest as a punishment for seducing his boss’s wife and aids the assassins in finding a route to Ochiai as well as in combating the enemy samurai.

Roger Ebert review

NY Times review

Kung Fu Kingdom review

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