Sunday, October 3, 2010

VIFF 2010 – 13 Assassins

Director Takashi Miike has directed some very extreme movies in the past. With 13 Assassins he explores the Samurai genre and as a result he has created one of the best modern Samurai films.

The movie follows a classic storyline. The shogun's brother is a psychopath. He kills and rapes at will and as he is the brother of the Shogun no one does anything about it. There are many people who want this guy dead, so a government official secretly hires an old samurai to kill him. The samurai in turn hires twelve other assassins who each have special skills to assist him in assassinating the Shogun's brother. They hatch a plan, train, and then execute their plan. As a result of this plan we get to watch a forty five minute long battle scene that is astonishing.

This film is pure men on a mission awesomeness. The movie has classic character types similar to Seven Samurai and they are each willing to die for their cause. Each character is great and they get to fight against an enemy that is easy to hate. There are three scenes at the beginning of the film that illustrate what a terrible guy the Shogun's brother is. The first being forcing himself onto a married woman and then killing her husband, the second tying up a family in a courtyard and shooting them point blank with arrows, and the third cutting of the limbs of a woman and keeping her basically as a pet. After growing tired of his limbless creature the Shogun's brother casts her out of her house and she ends up at the home of the Government official. Here they ask her what form of vengeance she would like and she requests "Total Massacre". This is exactly what we get.

The last forty five minutes of this film has enough action to fill ten other films. An entire town is destroyed as the 13 Assassins fight 200 guards. Saying the streets run red with blood is an understatement. It is more like the streets get filled with the bodies of the dead. At the packed screening last night these last forty five minutes were celebrated with clapping and calls of approval. Even though there is so much action going on each scene is coherent and expertly filmed. This final forty five is destined to be considered one of the best fight scenes in film history.

I had issues with the use of CG in the film, especially the three animated bulls at the end, but these scenes total about three minutes and don't take away from the greatness of the film. This is easily my favourite Miike film and in my opinion 13 Assassins is a genuine classic. No release date yet.

A Gold Banana

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