Takashi Miike directs Kôji Yakusho, Takayuki Yamada and Yûsuke Iseya in this historical samurai adventure movie where a small group of Japanese warriors take on an army in an attempt to kill a psychotic future Shogun.
Proof that the usually grainy and untethered Miike can do lush, classy prestige filmmaking to rival even Ridley or Kurosawa. That’s not to say his trademark shock tactics are in any way muted. We witness not one but three examples of the antagonist’s exceptional cruelty in the first act… any single one of these disturbing flashbacks would feel uncomfortable in the hands of a respectable auteur. The finale is 40 minutes of non-stop carnage; blood, booby traps and blades. This extended sequence can feel a little deadening at points. It is probably also fair to say at least 6 out 13 of the titular assassins don’t really take shape as fully fledged characters. Quibbles aside, this is the real deal.
Perfect Double Bill: Seven Samurai (1954)
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