Japanese director Takashi Miike’s latest movie, Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai, is slated to show at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, which kicked off Wednesday, May 11. If you can’t make it to Cannes and you’ve got a samurai jones going, you’ll definitely want to spend some time with Miike’s 13 Assassins, which opens in Denver this week and is moving slowly around the country.
Miike could have called this one, The Death Of A Whole Lot of Samurais. The body count rises in this story about a samurai warrior who tries to topple a sadistic nobleman in a battle with very long odds. How long? Try 13 against 200.
For 27 years, Robert Denerstein was the film critic at The Rocky Mountain News. Read more of Robert's reviews at Denerstein Unleashed.
Of course, Miike doesn’t spare us the sight of some of the evil warlord’s work. I include an example to ward off the squeamish: A woman who has had both her arms and legs chopped off.
The idea of desperate battle between a small group of mostly honorable men and an entire army is both familiar and preposterous, but Miike pushes it to extremes, allowing the climactic battle to extend for 45 action-packed and somewhat exhausting minutes.
It should come as no surprise that Miike’s movie is set during the 19th century, a time when once valued samurai are losing status, a popular moment for many directors who are partial to the genre’s apparently endless supply of swords, horses and blood.
13 Assassins is a large-scale production with an epic look, if not an epic story, but if you like this kind of movie — and what self-respecting movie fan doesn’t — 13 Assassins should do the trick. .
And by the way, Hara-Kiri has been made in 3-D. I’m no 3-D fan, but I have to admit that I can’t wait to see what Miike does with another dimension.