13 Assassins (2010)

  
How I haven’t already reviewed this amazing movie I don’t know. So I am making up for that now. This is in my top 5 all time favourites and by the time you watch it, I’m pretty sure it’ll be in yours too. Viewing this for the first time is an experience that I’d love to feel again. 

  
The plot begins when the master of Namiya clan commits speppuku. A samurai warrior by the name of Shinzaemon Shimada (Kôji Yakusho) is summoned by the shogun’s advisor to hear the tale of a man who’s son and daughter-in-law were brutally slain by the evil Lord Naritsugu. Shinzaemon also meets a woman who was mutilated by Lord Naritsugu. She writes with her mouth pleading with Shinzaemon to kill Lord Nartisugu. Shinzaemon gathers 11 other warriors and together they seek to dispose of Lord Naritsugu. 

  
The build up is amazing. Some folks may watch this and worry it’s moving along too slow, but I implore you to bear with it, because the final third is quite possibly one of the greatest 40 or so minutes ever committed to celluloid. Takashi Miike who is normally known for his brutal Yakuza films and seriously disturbing dramas such as Visitor Q, has created possibly the finest samurai movie ever made, and yes I have seen Seven Samurai. There is some great drama delivered here, and the action is spectacular. Lord Naritsugu is one of the vilest villains to ever grace the screen, and you are willing the 13 Assassins to complete their herculean task. 

  
Every actor involved is magnificent, really bringing to life what it was like during those dark times. There is the odd helping of humour to lighten proceedings, mostly coming from the stranger that helps the 12 warriors become 13, which really rounds off how great this film is. I cannot recommend this enough, and 10 years down the line this, if it isn’t already, will be labelled a classic. This is a movie seriously worthy of your time. I urge you to see it. 

5/5

JM

  

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The World of Kanako (2014)

  
Akikazu Fujishima (Kôji Yakusho) , an ex-cop, is contacted by his estranged wife to find their daughter Kanako (Nana Komatsu) who has gone missing. Akikazu agrees to help, believing that the return of his daughter can help repair the damage to his family. However the majority of Akikazu’s familial problems stem from his aggressive mental state. 

  
As Akikazu begins his investigation, he gets to know some of Kanako’s ‘friends’. They paint a completely different picture of the girl Akikazu thought he knew. It soon becomes apparent that Kanako was not the person he thought, and is the focus point for many people’s misery. The deeper Akikazu treads into the investigation, the more dangerous it becomes, leaving no chance of redemption for Akikazu. 

  
The opening credits were very 70’s, with a mixture of Saul Bass art and funky exploitation music.  This is a supremely dark movie however, and there is barely a ‘likeable’ character amongst the cast. All of them having some sort of problem in their lives and not leaving you many people to root for. That said, Yakusho is great as Akikazu, portraying a very Raymond Chandler-esque sort of character. A man with many faults of his own and desperate to get back a life he never really had to begin with. 

  
The violence, when it happens, is brutal and very harsh. There are scenes that some may not have the stomach for, but it’s done in a way that serves the story. All of the actors portray their respective characters brilliantly and you believe the story that is being told. It is a very good movie and one I recommend you see. 

4/5

JM