I love Japanese samurai films. Old, new, it doesn’t matter and this is one of my favourite of all time Takashi Miishi films to boot. 13 Assassins (Jûsan-nin no shikaku) is the story of a group of samurai warriors who band together to kill an evil lord in the twilight years of the Tokugawa reign. And when I say evil, I mean like hack off a woman’s arms and legs to use her as a sexual plaything evil. The swordplay is exquisite as are the costumes and the characters. When I think of the evil lord, Naritsugu Matsudaira, I often think of Yukio Mishima and his romantic vision of the aristocratic heritage of Japan’s Tokugawa Shogunate system. The Lord, after using an entire family as targets in archery practice speaks of how the punishment of servants is the obligation of the nobility and necessary for the preservation of harmony. Unlike Mishima, however, Miike makes sure to inject heroes from all walks of life; indeed, one of the heroes of the tale is a disfigured peasant whose gross irreverence of samurai and their pretence stands in stark contrast to the duty bound nobility.
Samurai Spy is later tonight!