A visceral, sweeping samarai tale at the end of feudal-era Japan that is riveting, if a mite exhausting is Takashi Miike's 13 Assassins (in Japanese with English subtitles).
Miike's next movie, also of the samarai variety, will be his first in 3D, but his fan base will have to wait for what doesn't squirt out at them this time, displayed at time with gusto.
The busy mayhem-fueled maestro who has covered many genres in his native land (not always to their pleasure) seems to take some spirited, stylish strokes into highly lauded films like Ran and The Seven Samarai that is definitely not for the faint of heart. Even if the opening hari-kari scene isn't as quite as graphic as it looks to be.
What has politics, a touch of levity and military ingenuity slowly becomes pulse-pounding as a senior adviser to the Shogun, Sir Doi (Mikijiro Hira), retains a middle-aged, midlevel samarai Shinzaemon (a nicely shaded Koji Yakusho of the original Shall We Dance?) to eliminate the heinous, sadistic Lord Naritsugu (Goru Inagaki).
Finely calibrated like the very outnumbered eponymous samurai, 13 Assassins is striking cinema with sumptuous wide-screen cinematography as the visibly shaken samarai-for-hire dastardly camouflages a serene hamlet. So, the prolific auteur's fans finally won't be disappointed with the intensely brutal spectacle of battle, a bloodbath to die for. Even after all the various forms of slaughter and evisceration, which horribly includes a limbless woman struggling to move about.
Yes, those accompanying the desired demographic will have to turn away from all the dripping and gore in spurts. However, they still may very well acknowledge a veteran's artistic mark on a genre that can be emotionally charged and immersive, one that conventionally cuts with grit and conviction right through the final showdown.