Monday, August 22, 2011

War Horse

13 Assassins(2010)
Directed By Takashi Miike

Takashi Miike is back in rare form. I was mildly amused by his Zebraman series and Yatterman and laughed out loud more than a few times during Detective Story, but Miike had been overdue for something truly grand, Sukiyaki Western Django's notwithstanding. He seems to have found a measure of cross-over success in that most quintesentially Japanese of genre's the Samurai film, relatively fresh territory for the workaholic auteur who cut his teeth on Yazuki and bleakly humored trangressive freakouts like Miike has. The film retains some of his usual genre distortions and deconstructions (like a gleefully nihilistic Robert Altman), specifically in the perverse Lord the assassins are retained to eliminate and his disdain for the samurai who serve him and their blind eyed obedience. He is a typical Miike character an aristocratic rapist, with a childlike fascination with violence, who asks in awe of the carnage around him "The age of war...was it always like this?" Paul Veerhoven's anti-military inter-galactic space war "Starship Troopers" is Miike's favorite film, and its influence shows in 13 Assasins as much as Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, which have been mentioned repeatedly in multiple reviews. The final hour or so of this film is one continuous battle/fight/chase scene and it's a thing of cinematic joy to behold and really the main reason to see this film. And then to see it again, and again. There is no choppy CGI on display here just old fashioned martial arts mayhem and daring stuntcraft, explosive as the arterial spray of a kitana to the jugular vein. When it comes to action films they rarely get better than this.

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