After a couple of busy weeks, I finally got around to watching "13 Assassins." I've had my eye on this one ever since the exclusive trailer was released on iTunes. And it was everything I was hoping for.
In 1860's Japan, the evil Lord Naritsugu rules the Akashi feudal clan. As the half-brother of the Shogun, Naritsugu takes advantage of his lineage and has his way with just about anyone he crosses paths with. His bloodlust has not gone unnoticed, and in order to maintain the time of national peace, the Shogun puts in a secret request to have his half-brother killed.
The Shogun's second-in-command, Sir Doi, reaches out to a man named Shinzaemon Shimada, a well-known samurai. Lord Naritsugu must be taken out before he reaches the Akamai region, where he will be inducted as Sir Doi's replacement. If Shinzaemon does not kill Naritsugu before he is made official, then the time of peace will be in jeopardy.
In order to convince Shinzaemon to come out of retirement, Sir Doi shares with him the horrors that Lord Naritsugu has inflicted upon innocent people. Most memorably, a woman who managed to escape his fortress only to be left with two legs to stand on. Shinzaemon then begins to recruit the best samurai in the region to join him in his assault.
Let me tell you this: 75% of the movie revolves around the complicated politics and social tensions that reflect the times. If you're attentive with the subtitles, the story begins to unfold - and it's a very poignant, emotional story of good versus evil. If you're not really paying attention, you'll find yourself feeling impatient and wondering, "When's the fighting gonna start?"
The remaining 25% of the film is completely dedicated to blood, swords, arrows, explosions, bone-breaking, neck-snapping, and total massacre. Takashi Miike does a really outstanding job of building you up and getting you ready for the most epic samurai battle you will ever see. When Lord Naritsugu and his 200 bodyguards are funneled into and trapped in a small town, Shinzaemon and his 12 assassins are waiting for him.
I can't say enough for how amazing the final standoff was. It's one of the longest battle scenes I've watched, and it was filmed in a way that felt so real. Even the blood-spatter was realistic, not exaggerated like the Tarantino does it (sorry, Quentin).
I really enjoyed "13 Assassins." If Tom Cruise doesn't cut it for you, then I highly recommend that you check out this movie. It's a real tribute to the works of such visonaries as Akira Kurosawa and Hideo Gosha. I guess at the end of the day, I'm just a silly Caucasian girl who wishes she could play with samurai swords.