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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - July, 2011

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"13 Assassins" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Milton

movie-july-2011-assassins

Synopsis

Cult director Takashi Miike (Ichi the Killer) delivers a bravado period action film set at the end of Japan's feudal era. 13 Assassins - a masterful exercise in cinematic butchery is centered around a group of elite samurai who are secretly enlisted to bring down a sadistic lord in order to prevent him from ascending to the throne and plunging the country into a war torn future.

Specifications

  • Magnolia/Magnet
  • 2011, Color, Rated R, 2 Hr 5 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Codec: AVC
  • 1080p
  • 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio/Japanese or English
  • Starring: Koji Yakusho
  • Directed by Takashi Miike
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Nudity
  • Language: No

Commentary

I love a good samurai flick, especially by Kurasawa. More than just perhaps the best action flick you will see this year, this movie delivers on evil vs. good and a stronger than average plot line. Yes, this film is not quite a classic and the film borrows from The Magnificent Seven and other comparable flicks, but the themes of loyalty, justice and sacrifice are universal and things all good men can understand. There are a bit too many protagonists to flesh out due to time constraints, and we never get to know what makes everyone tick, but the antagonist is coldly portrayed as evil personified. How can 13 ronin defeat a small army of 200 men? By turning a small village into an inescapable “death trap”, that's how. It’s a bit hard to follow which samurai is dying at any given time, but suffice it to say, they all go down swinging. The last 45 minutes of this movie will leave you exhausted and grinning. Who needs light sabers? Highly recommended, but not for the squeamish!

Technical

The picture and sound are almost demo quality. Even the dark scenes have plenty of detail. Colors are well rendered and blood and flesh tones are natural. Fine textures in the clothing are well delineated. The sound is lively, with plenty of ambient noises and music in all channels. Explosions rumble while clanging swords swirl about you as you cower in your seat. I preferred the Japanese soundtrack vs. the English dub, but both tracks are clear and intelligible. No high wire acts like Kung Fu Hustle, here. Except for the scene with “flaming bulls” (Yes...flaming bulls. How cool is that?), the CGI is about as good as it gets. This is my pick for "action movie of the year".

Extras

Deleted scenes and commentaries.