13 Assassins (2010)
An homage to the period-flicks of old. Takashi Miike’s “13 Assassins” is an epic addition into the samurai canon and sets a dizzying new height on the measuring stick. Unrestrained, impassioned, and utterly violent. “13 Assassins” is sure to quench the viewers appetite no matter how bloodthirsty. Revamping and reviving what was a faltering and fading sub-genre. Miike puts his modern twist on, while never forgetting, the immortal rules and makes “13 Assassins” an instant classic. Spending just as much time training and characterizing his samurais before sending them off on a path soon to be littered with severed heads and clever tactics. Takashi Miike once again proves why he is such a revealed filmmaker and adds another notch to his already legendary cult-status. “13 Assassins” is so relentlessly entertaining that you’ll never want it to end.
In the 18040′s, samurai power in Japan is coming to a close. Lord Naritsugu (Inagaki), younger brother of the current Shogun, kills and rapes at will. When a senior government official realizes that these heinous crimes are taking place and will continue to grow in severity when the Lord ascends to a higher position of political power, he hires a battle-hardened samurai named Shinzaemon (Yakusho) to secretly assassinate Lord Naritsugu. After gathering together his assassins, Shinzaemon and crew set out to ambush the Lord and his subjects. Upon being attacked by a weak force payed off by Hanbei (Ichimura), a loyal subject and protector of Lord Naritsugu, the 13 assassins must prepare for a battle that could mean their demise.
There’s something not seen by the human eye, seemingly invisible, but has an impact so immense, its undeniable, like dark matter…and it changes the ordinary into the extraordinary. Takashi Miike’s ”13 Assassins” has this irrefutable quality in spades. We can argue that it’s the performances, Miike’s unparalleled ingenuity, or the story itself till we explode. Now, there is no question that all of these characteristics are bursting from “13 Assassins.” Nonetheless, this thing, is not a physical trait, it’s an aura, something infused that causes “13 Assassins” to transcend the screen and become priceless, timeless, a universally acknowledged masterpiece. Whatever it is, whether it’s some kind of magic, sorcery, or sheer dumb luck. “13 Assassins” will never be topped. I’m not insane, some films have this trait and it is a hallowed, humbling experience.
Miike’s “13Assassins” is a poetic showcase of his dynamic lyricism and unrelenting savagery. The efficiency and smoothness in the way “13 Assassins” pace proceeds is unrivalled. Miike takes his time, building up the sadistic, unsympathetic evil brick by brick while simultaneously constructing an unstoppable, immovable force for good in his unforgiving samurais. His monstrous, larger-than-life filmmaking style pays huge dividends throughout “13 Assassins,” especially during the seemingly never-ending final battle sequence that is breathtaking and heart-racing. His ability to capture the slightest detail with the utmost importance while remaining true to the large-scale “13 Assassins” is based upon garners endless kudos. It is exceedingly difficult to find fault in Miike’s form or genius, which in my opinion, has never been better.
You’d think that because there are thirteen characters playing relatively similar roles, in addition to a ruthless villain, his protector, and a massive army. It would prove senseless to try and keep track of each individual. Even if you wanted to, the task would appear confusing and daunting to say the least. However, in actuality, it is the exact opposite. The cast Miike and company have chosen add a distinguishable face and personality to each samurai and soldier. Miike simply laid out the characteristics for each of the thirteen and let the charisma and talent of the actors take control. Regardless, albeit sadly, of how impressive and unique each performance is, there are only three leads to speak of: Koji Yakusho, Goro Inagaki, and Masachika Ichimura. I’m not downplaying the supporting cast, they are equally as impressive, just in a more limited sense.
Goro Inagaki successfully tackles the challenging endeavour of creating a villain who surpasses all calamity, maliciousness, and wickedness, to become an antagonist who is truly repulsive, infuriating, and inhumane. Essentially, an adversary without morals, heart, or emotion. Someone who’d one would never want to come across. Koji Yakusho has the privilege of being at the centre of “13 Assassins” and doesn’t waste the opportunity. Carrying the weight of his samurais, Yakusho shows no signs of discomfort. Exuding the steady-hand, persistence, and leadership needed to accomplish even the most revolting of chores. As for Masachika Ichimura’s character, he is rather hard to categorize. Although he is a ruthless killer, there is no denying that he is torn between loyalty and what is right, and Ichimura illuminates this struggle perfectly.
Part ways with the annoyance of reading subtitles, if you have a problem with it, set priorities. After you’ve finished watching “13 Assassins,” you’re just going to want to watch it again anyway. So anything you may have missed visually when you were reading the extreme and emotionally diverse dialogue will be easily picked up the second time you watch it, or the third, or the fourth, etc…get it? Takashi Miike’s “13 Assassins” is that rare picture who’s merit will never diminish, no matter how many times you view it. For a genre with numerous masterpieces such as “Seven Samurai” and “Yojimbo,” it would appear nearly impossible to add another. If anything, Miike’s entry tops all other pieces in the canon, which should speak volumes to the effectiveness and entertaining value of “13 Assassins.”
Wildly entertaining, decidedly vicious, and utterly clever. Takashi Miike’s “13 Assassins” is an instant classic and an undeniable masterpiece.
“13 Assassins:” 9.5 out of 10.
The Gushing Cinephile: June 10, 2013
Another week of The Gushing Cinephile and I am starting to really enjoy this segment. Have I got a few little tidbits of exciting news for you!
Let’s start off with what I feel to be the most important development of the week. Apparently, acclaimed filmmaker Takashi Miike, director of cult favourites such as “Ichi the Killer,” “Audition,” and “13 Assassins” is set to make his hollywood debut. After directing in excess of 50 Japanese films, Miike’s first english-language film will be entitled “The Outsider” and will star none other than the illustrious Tom Hardy. The film is supposedly set in post-World-War II Japan and follows a former american soldier who has now become involved with the Yakuza. Other than this information, very is little known about the upcoming film. Production is scheduled to begin early in 2014.
Moving on, “X-Men: Days of Future Past” director Bryan Singer tweeted this epic photo of Michael Fassbender as Magneto from the set of the film.
Up next, we have two new images from ”The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” Before I get into that, be sure to keep your eyes peeled on Tuesday as the first trailer from the film is supposedly going to drop.
First is a look at Evangeline Lilly as elf-warriror Tauriel.
Second, a poster for the film released a couple of days ago.
Now, onto more upsetting news, well, at least for me anyway. As you know, I am an avid fan of the television show “Shameless” and if you follow the show like me, you know that Justin Chatwin’s character Steve/Jimmy’s fate was left open-ended after last season’s finale. It recently broke that Chatwin would not be returning to the show, seemingly ending his relationship with Fiona, played by the radiant Emmy Rossum. Hopefully, somewhere down the line, Steve/Jimmy can return.
FInally, a couple of new trailers were released this past week. The first is for James Wan’s highly anticipated “Insidious: Chapter 2″ and the second is the new trailer for “Filth” starring James McAvoy.
Insidious: Chapter 2.
Okay guys, that’ll do it for The Gushing Cinephile this week. Remember that Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack for “Man of Steel” drops Tuesday. Also, let me know what you guys think about this week’s edition. Any bit of news you’re particularly looking forward to? Let me know! Everyone have a great week!
Assembling three of the most prominent and respected directors in the genres of horror and thriller. Three…Extremes is a moody, vicious, and down right disgusting compilation. It features shorts directed by Chan-wook Park (Oldboy), Fruit Chan (Durian Durian), and Takashi Miike (Ichi the Killer), each respectively unleashing their most emancipated efforts. While each short is equal in their monstrosity, individually they work on different levels and aspects of trepidation. The segments are entitled “Box” (Miike’s), “Cut” (Park), and “Dumplings” (Chan). Three…Extremes is consistent and even making it a rare spectacle in horror anthologies. When you combine Miike, Chan, and Park, you know what you’re getting yourself into. Sleep tight…
Dumplings: Fruit Chan.
An actress who is disgusted with her aging visits a woman to help her reclaim youth. The woman makes dumplings infused with a special ingredient that helps regenerate bodily properties. When the actress discovers what the special ingredient is, she is forced to make some difficult decisions on the length she is willing to go to retrieve her youthful looks.
Cut: Chan-wook Park.
A film director returns home from work one evening when strange events start to occur. When an intruder knocks him unconscious, he wakes on one of his sets with his wife being tied to a piano. The captor then begins to play mind games with the couple. As the stakes are raised, the director begins to crumble under the pressure.
Box: Takashi Miike.
A shy woman continuously has reoccurring nightmares in which she is buried alive in a box. While she is awake, she begins to see her long lost sister appear. During a series of flashbacks, the woman begins to realize the connection between her nightmares and apparitions.
I’ve always found it a bit odd that no hostage ever seems to understand that their captor is criminally insane. However, being this insane comes with its fair share of hilarity and apparently Mr. Park thinks so as well. The out of place humour in his short “Cut,” is a wonderful comical contrast. “Cut” is by far the most diabolical and ruthless of the shorts, with its twists, brutal truths, and cringing gore. “Dumplings” by Fruit Chan is the one short I’ll issue a warning for. Deliberately crossing the line and never looking back, “Dumplings” is not for the squeamish. Mixing a smart story with unexplainable acts, literally deplorable, “Dumplings” will leave you turning away in repulsion. Finally, Takashi Miike’s “Box” is the more generic and tame of the three I guess you could say. In no way am I taking anything away from this spine chilling tale. I am just stating that in comparison, “Box” isn’t nearly as physically despicable. “Box” is an excellent scare and will put you on the edge of your seat in fear. With each short working off one another, Three…Extremes is a vomit inducing, psychologically scrambling, eye burning thrill.
Three…Extremes: 9 out of 10.