Bullet Points: 13 Assassins
Sometimes the best type of film is one where there are no big questions being asked or answered. Sometimes we just need to see some guys stab other guys with swords.
Synopsis: A group of assassins come together for a suicide mission to kill an evil lord.
- Samurai: I have a very strong obsession when it comes to watching samurai films. Anything and everything is fair game. If it involves some feudal Japanese swordsmen and dudes with cool knot tops then I am entertained. There is something so interesting to me about how unique the samurai culture was in the world and whether it’s Akira Kurosawa, Takashi Miike, Hideo Gosha, or some other unknown guy, I watch enough samurai movies to almost make me an honorary samurai. I think it’s time I start carrying some swords around!
- Royal Dickhead: So a bunch of assassins get together to kill a man who deserves the worst kind of death. Lord Naritsugu Matsudaira is the half brother of the Shogun (essentially Japan’s king) and is easily the most terrible human alive. He kills entire families for the fun of it. He snatches up a married woman, rapes her, murders her husband, and then strolls out like nothing happened. He’s responsible for so many suicides because of his actions that he leaves a death toll in his wake like a natural disaster. Maybe the worst thing he does is when our loyal band of assassins meet a woman who had all her limbs lopped off and used as a pet by Naritsugu. It’s a really disturbing scene and only offers more evidence for why he needs killed.
- Honorable Killers: The group of assassins are led by the almost retired samurai Shinzaemon Shimada. With his Lord gone, his wife recently died, and no real reason to live outside of honor, Shinzaemon is chosen by some of the Shogun’s advisors to take on the mission to kill Naritsugu. He quickly starts gathering other men who might want to take on the almost certain suicide mission. The men each take the mission on for different reasons. Some do it because it’s hard to find a great death for a warrior during peacetime. Others are simply following their masters or taking it on for money.
- Ronin Job Squad: For those of you not up on your professional wrestling terminology, a “jobber” is a guy who’s main purpose is to get his ass kicked and make the “stars” look good in the process. Well, feudal Japan also appears to have had jobbers because before the assassins can make their way to the main bad guy they first get to slice their way through a bunch of guys with absolutely no chance at stopping them. Even a kickass group of samurai need a tune up every once in a while. Plus, it becomes some of the guys first blooding…definitely not their last.
- Samurai Chess: Shinzaemon and a former comrade of his named Hanbei Kito, who is now in the service of the horrible Naritsugu, play a bit of a chess game as the two men start placing their men in different areas. Shinzaemon and his men are trying to find a good spot to spring their trap but Hanbei, being the equally badass samurai retainer that he is, is trying to protect his Lord anyway he can.
- One Massive Battle: Is there a more amazing finale than the one in 13 Assassins? If there is one out there then please educate me so I can watch that shit! Shinzaemon and his crew find the perfect place to set their trap. They get the villagers out and then turn the town into a city of death. Explosives, booby traps, and a metric shit ton of swords awaits the evil Naritsugu and his men and suffice it to say, the 13 men waiting to take on Hanbei and his other defenders are gonna need every single one of them. The scene is epic in the most epic kind of way. The assassins pull some cool tricks out and literally slash their way all through the town trying to get at the Lord. Sadly for them, there are scores of guys protecting Naritsugu and they aren’t going to just let their Lord get axed.
I don’t need to set a trap… these Bonus Bullet Points are straight up killer:
- “He who values his life dies a dog’s death.”
- Takashi Miike is no stranger to blood on film. This movie is no different to his other work as he pretty much covers these actors in blood for half the film.
- If you’ve ever wanted to see a herd of cattle on fire then this is the movie for you.
- The final 50 minutes or so is one gigantic bloodbath… and it’s marvelous.
The Verdict: I am in no way ashamed to admit that 13 Assassins is one of my favorite movies of all time. I have a top 3 and then it gets a little murky but 13 Assassins is easily in my top 10. I love that it’s a simple movie about some samurai on a mission to kill a really bad dude. This movie just so happens to have the bad dude being protected by a whole bunch of other dudes and it leads to an amazing battle. All of the actors are incredible and Takashi Miike knows how to do action like few other can. It really gets me excited for his new samurai film on the way titled Blade of the Immortal. If you dig samurai movies, sword-swinging action, or just historical brilliance, then you need to watch 13 Assassins immediately.