You were right, Brandon. 13 ASSASSINS is awesome. It's very fitting material considering our recent talk about violence in film. This a film that is incredibly gory and violent, but it needs to be. The opening needs to be violent so we can know how much to hate the evil Lord, and the epic finale needs to be violent because we are seeing a bunch of warriors' last stand. We are seeing a swan song to the age of War, and what we get had better be soaked in blood. It is and it's pretty damn terrific.
Talk about violence that is entertaining and funny. There is one great moment when a man who is on fire is sliced down the middle and all you see are two burning slabs bend out of frame. Pretty sweet. Though, I think my favorite moment in the film is when the enemies enter the area decorated with swords. One master samurai just begins slicing dudes up and grabbing new swords to aid him in his slaughter. It’s fucking awesome.
Kurosawa and Peckinpah were evoked in a lot of the reviews I read. It's pretty easy to see why. This is an old-fashioned and violent epic through and through, which is something I wasn't expecting. I agree with you completely, Brandon, about how the fight scenes are shot and choreographed. It's so refreshing to see a fight scene that you can actually follow. Miike does a great job setting up each one of our assassins in the beginning and then letting us follow each one during the fight sequence in these brief but highly organized mini-episodes. This is how a big fight scene should be composed. Not just relying on shaky-cam and blistering cuts to disorient us through chaos, but carefully guiding us through clear and organized scenes so we know who is fighting who and can care. I thought the whole (nearly hour long) fight sequence was terrific. It was exciting, engrossing, and most importantly lucid.
This is a great samurai film from a director I really haven't gotten acquainted with. I don't think I could handle his horror films, but if he keeps making films like this, I'll surely keep watching.