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13 Assassins

13 AssassinsRiding 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-brother’s rule
  as Shogun

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 for Naritsugu.

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 finished.

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 Best Sound.

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 ****" — Loaded

"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

"****" — The Sun

"****" — The Daily Express

"****" — Nuts Magazine