Watch “13 Assassins”

13 Assassins (Jūsannin no Shikaku) is a 2010 Japanese Jidaigeki “period drama” film directed by the acclaimed, prolific and controversial film maker Takashi Miike (Ichi The Killer, Sukiyaki Western Django). This is a Samurai epic based on a real life historical incident, the film is a remake of Eiichi Kudo’s excellent 1963 black and white film of the same name.

To stop a young tyrant from murdering and exploiting innocent civilians, 13 Samurai Warriors unite and prepare to end his life. But to kill the evildoer, the assassins must contend with an army of deadly bodyguards who outnumber them by a wide margin.

The first hour and seventeen minutes of this film is a little slow and talky but the third act really makes up for it. There’s an epic thirty minute long battle between the thirteen assassins and a veritable army of bodyguards. The battle very much reminds me of the endings of Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai” or “Throne of Blood.” It’s fascinating to watch how single pointedly intent the assassins are in accomplishing their mission, as well as how in true Samurai fashion, the body guards are ready to lay down their lives in defense of their Lord.

It’s interesting to watch how the assassins trap and pick off the bodyguards in the awesome final battle. The most important self defense lesson that I gleaned from this film is that you have to be able to pick anything up and use it as a protection tool.You must be skilled in the five weapon categories; impact, edged, flexible, projectile and any combination of these.

If you don’t understand Japanese or you don’t want to read subtitles, there’s an English 5.1 audio option on the disc. The dubbing is actually very good. There’s also a short but good Jujutsu versus multiple attackers fight in the deleted scene section. My suggestion is to go to the 1:17 mark in the film and watch it from there first. If you really like it you can then go back to the beginning and find out what inspired the 13 Assassins to do what they did.

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