Review: 13 Assassins DVD

13 Assassins DVDSTUDIO: Magnolia | DIRECTOR: Takashi Miike | CAST: Koji Yakusho, Takayuki Yamada, Yusuke Iseya, Goro Inagaki, Masachika Ichimura
7/5/11 | PRICE: Blu-ray $29.98, DVD $26.98
BONUSES: director’s interview, deleted scenes
R | 125 min. | Foreign language action adventure | 2.40:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1/ Dolby Digital 5.1

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

13 Assassins movie scene

The fight is on in 13 Assassins.

Bad boy Japanese cult filmmaker Takashi Miike takes a more classically styled approach than usual with his samurai action adventure 13 Assassins, a surprisingly traditional movie from the man who has directed such over-the-top pictures as Ichi the Killer and the Dead or Alive gangster series.

Adapted from a 1963 Japanese film of the same name, the straight-ahead story is set in the mid 19th century, the end of Japan’s Shogunate era, when the vicious Lord Naritsugu (Goro Inagaki) is sadistically reaming all those around him as the samurai Shinzaemon Shimada (Koji Yakusho) and his baker’s dozen of assassins plot to take him out. It’s relatively slow-going until the final third, which features an extended battle between the warriors and Naritsugu’s army.

Furious, violent and handsome-looking as it is, 13 Assassins doesn’t break any new or invigorating ground in samurai cinema. Miike fulfills all the genre’s demands but, again, doesn’t inject much of his trademark fury and personality into the proceedings. Miike is one of the world’s most prolific popular filmmakers, having cranked out some dozen films in the past five years. Perhaps 13 Assassins is acting as some sort of celluloid sorbet between his more idiosyncratic projects.

Bonus features on the DVD include 18 minutes of deleted scenes and a 19-minute interview with Miike where he offers that the concept of “genre” is something that’s created by the people who are distributing and marketing the movie, not the moviemaker, himself.


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.