REVIEW: '13 Assassins'

REVIEW: '13 Assassins'

REVIEW: '13 Assassins', Flicks.co.nz

4 stars

Cult Japanese director Takeshi Miike (Audition) takes a break from his lunatic-laden thrillers to deliver this periodic samurai epic (in the proper sense of the word). Now playing nationwide, click for movie times and trailer.


Japanese director Takashi Miike is (in)famous amongst cinephiles for his bizarre, violent re-workings of genre cinema; in this case, samurai movies. He may be mellowing in his old age, as 13 Assassins plays it remarkably straight by the standards of his own back catalogue. This has allowed him to create a wildly entertaining blockbuster that should appeal outside the extreme Asian cinema niche market.

There would appear to be a sizable budget bankrolling this production, as the costumes and sets look fantastic from the get go. Some of the more basic story elements are a touch weak and you may find yourself getting antsy waiting for the action to kick in, but when it does you’ll never want it to stop. Lucky for you then that the central face-off comprises almost half the film’s running time and encapsulates all sorts of malevolent sword play, captured with a constantly shifting camera and kinetic editing that only adds to the excitement.

It’s worth going out of your way to see the aforementioned battle scenes on a big screen, as such visual spectacle more than makes up for the film’s other weaknesses and won’t be nearly as impressive on DVD.

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