2 films came to mind after I’d finished viewing Takashi Miike’s 2010 samurai epic, 13 Assassins. Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai and the only other Miike film I’ve watched, Ichi The Killer. I suppose it felt like a cross between the two to me.

It’s set during the waning end of the Edo period in Japan, sometime before the Meiji restoration and when the Shogun still held the ultimate power. The opening scene has some dude cutting his stomach open in an act of harakiri in protest over the belligerent actions of Matsudaira Naritsugu, the primary antagonist in the story. He’s basically a silver spoon in his mouth sadist who’s got way too much power because he’s the Shogun’s brother and as a result, is untouchable.

He raped a woman and murdered her husband in front of him just because and tied this family to poles and shot arrows at them, including a kid. He also chopped the limbs off the daughter of a peasant leader. He’s an asshole. He’s gonna die, but still, the odds are stacked against the men assigned to secretly assassinate him.

Doi Toshitsura is the guy that decides that enough is enough and assigns Shinzaemon Shimada to kill the mofo before he rapes all of Japan. Bear in mind, this is Japan in a period of peace, having only recently gone through lots of bloodshed and fighting over territories and most people are keen to keep the status quo. Shinzaemon manages to group together 12 men including himself, all specially handpicked, skilled swordfighters plus one veteran with a spear.

It took a while for the first phase, the establishing the major players and plot phase to end and all of the gore comes in the form of Naritsugu’s treachery. When Shinzaemon comes into the picture, we get to know the 12 different samurai, including Shinzaemon’s own nephew, Shinrokuro. This is the part of the film where we establish the emotional connections between the team as a whole as well as segments of the team and we learn specifics of the individuals. Like a heist movie or well, the seven in Seven Samurai. Their task is daunting. They are to intercept Naritsugu as he travels to his home province and kill him but he’s gonna be guarded by an entourage.

After some tactical tomfoolery, the team finally decides to move, choosing to cut through the forest after having to dispense with some useless ronin in the first taste of action. In the forest, they get lost until they see this guy tied up hanging from a tree. He’s a hunter named Kiga Koyata who offers his help in getting out of the forest if they help him down. Later he becomes the 13th member of the team.

Eventually they arrive at the little town of Ochiai which they fortify and revamp into a fortress designed to herd and separate the enemy like cattle, rigged with explosives and traps and shit. So the enemy arrives only, they’re not the 70 as reported but 200+ instead. No matter, it’s gonna be a bloodbath all the same and this epic battle ensues where the 13 assassins bring it hardcore and a lot of weakshit peons die until finally, just Shinzaemon and Shinrokuro are left for the penultimate smackdown where the rich bully gets what he deserves. And boy does he grovel like an ass.

The action sequences are pretty good and there’s lots of blood and guts and arms and blood and blood. There’s really only one curious character, that of Kiga Koyata that maybe gives the film something to talk about but aside from that, it looks and feels like if you bloodwashed Seven Samurai and reduced the plot. Still alright for a gander.

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