Review: 13 Assassins

Takashi Miike – a man who has previously unleashed the likes of Audition and Ichi The killer on the world – is someone of whom great care should be taken when deciding which toys he be allowed to play with.

Letting him lose with knives, swords, indeed anything sharp would seem to be a bad idea and any kind of Samurai piece a definite no no.

The number of walkouts during the opening half hour of this Seven Samurai-style historical epic when it was screened at the London Film Festival would suggest that he's got a bit carried away again.

He certainly takes it to extremes hammering home exactly how depraved and evil his baddy is. A whole family, including young children, bound up for use as close range target practice with his bow and arrow was a particularly nasty touch.

After that, though, the film settles down a bit and quite a lot of the sword-slashing dismembering is left to the imagination, though quite a lot isn't.

The first hour is heavy with some bewilderingly convoluted exposition; so the early nasty stuff does at least fix in the viewer's mind who the villain is and why he should be stopped.

Most of the rest of it is just a mystifying round of hari kiris, honour debts and shoguns.

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The surprise is how straightforward and respectful a take on Kurosawa's historical epic this is.

It's very well done. The final showdown is all the action you could possibly need and a little bit more, going on for a good half hour.

13 Assassins (15)

Director: Takashi Miike

With: K�ji Yakusho, Takayuki Yamada, Y�suke iseya, Gor� Inagaki, Masachika Ichimura and Mikijiro Hira

Length: 141 mins