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)
Rating:

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

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