a wave of critical acclaim, 13 Assassins is a terrific and terrifying
journey into the fading world of the
samurai, where a cruel and psychotic
lord threatens not only the safety of
the Japanese people but the very
existence of his half-brothers rule
DURING A RARE PERIOD OF PEACE IN JAPAN, the ailing Shogun has adopted his
half-brother as his heir, but the loathed and feared Lord Naritsugu Matsudaira
(Gor˘ Inagaki) is cold-blooded, pitiless and sadistic and has left a trail of
rape, torture and carnage in his wake. His position places him above the law
and he is therefore free to do as he pleases.
It is 1844 in the Koka Era and peace is under threat from the war-loving Akashi
clan ruler Naritsugu. Courtier Sir Doi (Mikijiro Hira), concerned for the future
of the Shogunate, has little choice but to bring in a trusted samurai to amass
a loyal group of fighters to put an end to Naritsugu's evil plans.
With the utmost discretion of paramount importance as the Council Elders cannot
be seen to be against the Shogun or his family, Sir Doi tracks down the elusive,
respected and noble samurai warrior Shinzaemon Shimada (K˘ji Yakusho).
Akashi clan elder Zusho Mamiya has already committed hara-kiri in protest against
Naritsugu; and Yukie Makino, a subject of Lord Owari who serves the Agematsu
in Kiso, has told Shinzaemon that Naritsugu forced himself upon his son's wife
Chise and butchered her husband, Uneme, whereupon Chise took her own life.
Having witnessed further the results of Naritsugu's barbarity, Shinzaemon, who
had been looking for a way to die honourably as a samurai, agrees to put together
an elite band of samurai assassins to assassinate Naritsugu an action
that is likely to prove to be a suicide mission as he is closely guarded.
Shinzaemon is told that the following month Naritsugu is to leave Edo (Ancient
Tokyo) for the Akashi domain. They cannot allow him to reach the Akashi lands
as they would be unable to touch him there but Naritsugu has spies everywhere
and he quickly discovers that Yukie Makino and Shinzaemon have visited Sir Doi.
He knows of Shinzaemon and is troubled by his re-appearance, changing his planned
route as a matter of precaution.
After searching for true samurai who are willing and able to fight alongside
him, and following weeks of tough training and meticulous preparation, Shinzaemon
is ready to go into battle, joined by Kujuro (Tsuyoshi Ihara), a samurai of
unmatched skill and prowess; veteran samurai Kuranaga (Hiroki Matsukata); Assistant
Chief Inspector Mitsuhashi (Ikki Sawamura); Subordinates Otake (Seiji Rokkaku)
and highly-skilled assassin Hioki (S˘usuki Takaoka); Higuchi (Yuma Ishigaki);
Horii (K˘en Kond˘), a samurai skilled in the use of explosives; the battle-scarred
and hardened Sahara (Arata Furata), who favours the spear to the sword; Rihei
(Kazuki Namioka), another skilled and courageous assassin; and the youthful
but untested in battle Ogura (Masataka Kubota), an orphan. Shinzaemon's nephew
Shinokuro (Takayuki Yamada) leaves his woman, Tsuya (Kazue Fukiishi), to volunteer.
The twelve samurai set out through the mountains and forest, hoping to ambush
Naritsugu and his men. It is a perilous journey during which they find a thirteenth
assassin Koyata Kiga (Yűsuke Iseya), a strange hunter claiming samurai
heritage whose favourite pastime is fighting bears. Shinzaemon also comes face
to face with old adversary Hanbei Kito (Masachika Ichimura), who is working
Despite employing clever and well-orchestrated tactics, Shinzaemon's band of
samurai are hugely outnumbered but the courageous assassins disregard
the odds and enter into a bloody showdown that cannot end until Naritsugu is
With fantastic music adding to the tension, 13 Assassins is a superbly-paced,
brilliantly visual, awe-inspiring and truly compulsive samurai film based on
a true incident.
13 Assassins Director Takashi Miike (the man behind such uncompromising
and unforgettable movies as Audition and Ichi The Killer) indelibly
stamps his trademark style on the Samurai genre with this ultra-violent, all
action, blood-spattered epic. Just enough gore, and a few shocking images, to
give a realistic picture of the era.
Miike, as one of the most prolific, wildly unpredictable and controversial directors
in cinema, reinvents himself once more; throwing in several blatant nods to
the works of Akira Kurosawa and sufficient grotesquery to satisfy his loyal
legions of fans.
Executive Produced by Toshiaki Nakazawa (Producer of Departures, winner
of the 2009 Oscar for Best Foreign Film) and Jeremy Thomas (The Last Emperor;
Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence), Miike's remake of Eichi Kudo's classic 1963
samurai period action drama Jűsan-nin no shikaku boasts a heavyweight
cast featuring some of the biggest names in contemporary Japanese cinema, including
Koji Yakusho (Babel; Memoirs Of A Geisha), Takayuki Yamada (252: Sign
Of Life), Yuseke Iseya (Sukiyaki Western Django; Memories of Matsuko;
Casshern), Mikijiro Hira (Goemon) and Hiroki Matsukata (Tajomaru:
Avenging Blade; Ichi). 13 Assassins also features: Ikki Namioka;
Mitsuki Tanimura; Takumi Saito; Shinnosuke Abe; Masaaki Uchino; Ken Mitsuishi;
Ittoku Kishibe; and Koshiro Matsumoto.
The fantastic, original music is by K˘ji End˘; Based on an original screenplay
by Kaneo Ikegami; Screenplay by Daisuke Tengan; Cinematography (Director of
Photography) by Nobuyasu Kita; Executive Producers are: Takashi Hiraj˘, Toshiaki
Nakazawa and Jeremy Thomas; Producers: Minami Ichikawa, T˘ichir˘ Shiraishi and
Michihiko Yanagisawa; and Directed by Takashi Miike.
Nominated for the prestigious Golden Lion Award at the 2010 Venice International
Film Festival, this year 13 Assassins went on to win four Japanese Academy
Awards for Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Lighting, and
Following its hugely-successful UK theatrical
release, that saw it given a five-star review in Time Out and four-star
reviews in six other publications, 13 Assassins is released on DVD and
Blu-ray by Artificial Eye on 5 September 2011. Certificate: 15 | Running Time:
126 Minutes | RRP: DVD ú15.99; Blu-ray ú19.99.
"13 Assassins is a superbly-paced, brilliantly visual, awe-inspiring
and compulsive samurai film" Maggie Woods, MotorBar
"Triumphantů Pure joy! *****" Time Out
"One of the greatest Samurai movies ever madeů stunning ****"
"One of the most memorable and shocking action films in an absolute
ageů brutal, bloody, brilliant ****" The Daily Mirror
"An immediate action classiců magnificent" The Mail On Sunday
"A virtuoso 45 minute bloodbath you won't easily forgetů a sustained frenzy
of blistering choreographic skill that Hollywood won't top all year ****"
The Daily Telegraph
"A breathtaking ballet of blades and bloodshed" Bizarre
"Takashi Miikeů in top, slash-tastic form" Variety