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Review: 13 Assassins

 The latest from prolific director of extreme films, Takeshi Miike.
By BRETT MICHEL  |  May 9, 2011
3.5 3.5 Stars

A prolific director of extreme films, Takeshi Miike (Ichi the Killer) sets his latest in the waning days of feudal Japan's samurai era. He shoots the opening scene — a clan elder's dignified act of seppuku in protest of the growing power of Lord Naritsugu (Gorô Inagaki), sadistic half-brother of the shogun — without letting a drop of blood enter the frame, the horrors of the disembowelment registering only on the face of the victim. Then the restraint ends. The 45 minutes of unrelenting carnage that conclude 13 Assassins are as crimson-soaked as fans would expect. And yet this tale is also moving. Kôji Yakusho (Shall We Dance?) brings gravitas to Shinzaemon Shimada, a samurai widower charged with assembling a group for a suicide mission to assassinate the rogue lord. It's a thrilling final chapter for a man who's outgrown a peaceful world.

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