13 Assassins

The samurai age is waning in 13 Assassins, and good riddance to it. Takashi Miike’s epic, rousing action film is a potshot at the lionized way of the samurai, suggesting that their vaunted obsession with duty and personal honor came at the expense of their humanity. “I’ve been looking for a noble death” says a character early on, relieved to be conscripted into a suicide mission to kill a murderous lord — and this may be the first movie to ever view that kind of statement as sinister rather than admirable. What kind of person sits around trying to contrive a way to die?

13 Assassins is somewhat of a surprise from Japanese provocateur Miike — a methodically focused adventure without so much as a subplot to be found. Miike channels his energy into the action, specifically the nearly hour-long melee that concludes the film as the titular assassins trap their quarry (the evil lord and his 200-strong entourage) in an evacuated town. My eyes started to glaze over by the end, but a bit of overkill aside, this is a gorgeous, technically flawless production, with a subversive bent I wasn’t expecting.

-- Eugene Novikov

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Screening Log


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Score: C

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Score: C+

10 Years

Jamie Linden, 2012

Score: B-

The Place Beyond the Pines

Derek Cianfrance, 2013

Score: B+

Warm Bodies

Jonathan Levine, 2013

Score: C

Beautiful Creatures

Richard LaGravanese, 2013

Score: B-

The Window

Ted Tetzlaff, 1949

Score: B+

The Chase

Arthur Ripley, 1946

Score: B

Street of Chance

Jack Hively, 1942

Score: C

The Taste of Money

Im Sang-Soo, 2013

Score: C+

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