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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Zatoichi (2003)

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This film is up there in my top five, hell it may even be number one. Takeshi Kitano who created Takeshi’s Castle and who was a big TV comedy star, writes, directs and stars in this sublime movie. He plays Zatoichi the blind swordsman. He travels across the country posing as a masseuse, but is also an expert fighter. He shuffles along lulling would be bandits into a false sense of security, but can strike like a cobra when the occasion calls for it.

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Zatoichi comes across a town which is run by two warring gangs. He meets a load of different people all with their own problems and agendas, who need Zatoichi’s help. As he goes about helping the townsfolk he becomes the focus of a mysterious gang boss who hires a ronin to kill Zatoichi, not realising what Zatoichi is capable of. The characters in the movie are just brilliant. All have their own quirks and Takeshi Kitano manages to infuse the film with humour and warmth, all while keeping the tension bubbling till the final showdown. Zatoichi finds himself unwittingly causing problems because of his keen senses and apparent calm demeanour.

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The action in the movie is simply breathtaking. Many have moaned about the CGI blood in the movie but it honestly didn’t bother me. The way Zatoichi dispatches a group of bandits with ease really has to be seen to be believed. There is so much happening in the movie, be it the little musical beats that the workers in the field work to, or the banter inside the gambling den. It is a movie that can be enjoyed time and again.

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Every person I have showed the film to loves it. The final showdown is amazing and gets me giddy every time I see it, it’s just fantastic. To top it off there is a fantastic tap dancing sequence after the movie has ended. It has nothing to do with the story but it works so well, it really is just an astonishing feat in film making. You owe it to yourself to see it.

5/5

JM

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