World Cinema Series #2: 十三人の刺客 (13 Assassins)

World Cinema Series is a movie challenge hosted by Caroline of Beauty is a Sleeping Cat.

The idea is to watch as many movies by countries across the world, not only Hollywood (but I will also include one Hollywood movie that I found very interesting).

My first country was Sweden, I watched and reviewed Låt den rätte komma in – let the Right One In.

You can read more reviews in Carolines’s Page or Richard’s Foreign Film Festivals.

Now,  let’s take a look at my second movies from a country I admired the most, Japan.

Second Country: Japan

十三人の刺客 (Jūsannin no Shikaku)

My second trip is to Japan to see the way of the samurai in a movie called 十三人の刺客 (Jūsannin no Shikaku) or 13 Assassins. It’s a samurai movie. Samurai always fascinated me, I think they are the most loyal army you can ever find. They will ignore their own will just to serve their master. I sort of wish samurai still exist.

Jūsannin no Shikaku began with the cruelty of Lord Matsudaira Naritsugu, he was the brother of the current Shogun. A senior government official, Doi Toshitsura felt that Lord Narigutsu would become a national threat when he finally sat on better political position. To stop that from happening, Doi asked Shimada Shinzaemon to assassinate Naritsugu.

Shinzaemon was shown proofs of Naritsugu’s cruelty and his heart was touched by it. He wanted to destroy Naritsugu even if it’ll cost his life. Shinzaemon gathered 11 trustworthy samurai to assist him. They made plan to ambush Naritsugu. 12 samurai was not going to fight against hundreds samurai whom protected Naritsugu without a great plan.

When they took a shortcut through a mountain, they met their 13th companion, he was not a samurai but he had good fighting skill. They turned the village where they would ambush Naritsugu into a place full of traps and labyrinth. Can they kill Naritsugu? And how many samurai will remain alive?

The thirteen samurai were: Shimada Shinzaemon (Kōji Yakusho), Kuranaga Saheita (Hiroki Matsukata), Shimada Shinrokurō (Takayuki Yamada), Ishizuka Rihei (Kazuki Namioka), Hirayama Kujūrō (Tsuyoshi Ihara), Mitsuhashi Gunjirō (Ikki Sawamura), Ōtake Mosuke (Seiji Rokkaku), Hioki Yasokichi (Sōsuke Takaoka), Higuchi Gennai (Yūma Ishigaki), Horii Yahachi (Kōen Kondō), Sahara Heizō (Arata Furuta), Ogura Shōujirō (Masataka Kubota) and Kiga Koyata (Yūsuke Iseya)

I really like this movie, not only because I like Samurai movies but also because Jūsannin no Shikaku has a good moral story. There was a conflict between two samurai, one was the one who protected Naritsugu and the other was Shinzaemon. Shinzaemon had retired and bowed to no master, his action was fully derived by his own good will. Meanwhile, the other senior samurai who worked for Naritsugu knew perfectly well that Naritsugu was wrong and cruel but he was tied to his duty to honor and protect his master no matter what. This kind of conflict in samurai is very interesting to see.

The fighting scenes were also great. Seeing those men slashing their swords around was one ofmy favorite war scene…I like that kind of war more than the war with guns, in my eyes a battlefield with swords is very elegant and not merely about killing people. My favorite part is when Shinzaemon’s student was fighting through so many Naritsugu’ samurai just to get to Naritsugu (minute 1:43 in the trailer).

Overall, Jūsannin no Shikaku or 13 Assassins is a great movie, both fighting scene and story. The ending is a bit unusual, you might end up asking ‘why is he still alive?’(You’ll know whom once you see it), the answer is in Miike’s interview, it’s because he is a youkai not a human.

Movie Detail

Title: 十三人の刺客 (Jūsannin no Shikaku – 13 Assassins)
Director: Takashi Miike
Staring: See the thirteen Assassins’ names above
Screenplay: Daisuke Tengan
Released: September 9, 2010 (Venice Film Festival), September 25, 2010 (Japan)

My Introduction post and Movies I will watch and had watched can be found here.


    1. Thank you Nostra. I still need to see Seven samurai one day. I am not a fan of Black and White movie…yet.But I really want to see it one day.

  1. This one i jsut saw 2 day back and I must say a GEM of a movie a must watch … those who love samurai movies this is the one to see .. especially the last 10 minutes of the movie awesome ..

  2. Great review, Novroz. I really want to watch this it looks excellent. I know what you mean about the differnce between fighting with modern weapons or with a word. The fighters had so muc more chnace, their skills could save them whereas nowadays, when you are in the wrong place at the wrong moment, you are dead.

    1. Thank you Caroline. It is excellent and perfect for you war movie blog.
      Close combat is always better to see than guns with bullets flying around, be it with sword or other weapon. It’s a true war where skill and strength play the bigger part.
      Yes,nowadays war…innocent people could get hurt.

  3. ’13 Assassins’ was one of faves from last year. Although, Miike’s use of those flamin’ CGI cattle in that one scene was just about unforgivable ;-). Fine look at this. Thanks, Novroz.

  4. A nice review… I’m glad you finally got the chance to see this one. This was a good movie with excellent battle scenes, I liked it a lot too. It did feel a bit slow in the beginning, I thought, but that last 30 minute battle scene at the village was most definitely worth it.

    If you like these kinds of movies Novia, you just might like the Thai film “Bang Rajan”… it’s another of these kinds of movies where a small outnumbered band is forced to battle against impossible odds. Ooooohhh!! And it has water buffalo cavalry charges in it…. How often do you see one of those? 😉

    1. I like it from the beginning, Naritsugu’s cruelty was interesting to see. I got really pissed off with him for his arrogant attitude. And the planning is also interesting. But, the last 30minutesis the best part.

      Thank you so much for the recommendation Miyuki, if I can find it, it will be my Thailand movie for this series 🙂

  5. I liked this but didn’t think it was great. Too many of the samurai die before you form much of an emotional attachment to them. The extended action sequence at the end is great but they should have built up the relationships between the samurai more so we get to care for them.

    1. I think time is the big issue here Cas. It would be great if each samurai had their moment so we could be more attach to them but 2 hours won’t be enough for that. However, I do agree that the lack of development in characters lower the movie quality, that’s why I could only rate it 4,5 instead of a full 5

  6. This isn’t my kind of movie, Nov, but I know a lot of people love this one. I’m actually gonna be writing a ‘World Cinema Series’ type post later this weekend as the movie I’m writing about is set in India. It’s a special guest review for V-day 🙂

    1. It’s really good Ruth, try watching it…at least it’s not horror 😉

      Yaii, you finally joining the event, do share it in Caroline’s blog. An romantic Indian movie…hmm…I wonder what movie that is. I will watch an Indian movie too for WCS but not sure which one I will watch.

      I bet you will be happy to see my chosen movie for England, you are the one who told me about the movie 😉

  7. Takashi Miike’s movie… hm… I won’t be surprise with the blood. I don’t mind with sword fight because as you’ve said above, it is beautiful to see. But, I hope there aren’t violent scenes that are too gruesome/gratuitous). ^^ However, the casts looked familiar, I think I’ll watch this movie. (ada om Ikki ^^).

Say something so I know you have read my post, THANK YOU for reading :)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s