Thursday, May 12, 2011

Samurai warriors battle long odds

13 Assassins celebrates Samurai movie tropes without getting self-conscious about it.
Japanese director Takeshi Miike's new movie, Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai, is slated to show at the Cannes Film Festival, which kicked off on May 11. If you can't make it to Cannes and you've been seized by a samurai jones, 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. Miike's body count is high 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. * Of course, Miiki doesn't spare us the sight of some of the evil warlord's work, some of which may upset the squeamish. * The idea of desperate battle between a small group of 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. * Miike's movie is set in the 19th century, a time when once valued warriors are losing their status, a popular moment for many directors who are partial to the genre's apparently endless supply of swords, horses and bloodshed. * 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 is in 3-D. I'm no 3-D fan, but I have to admit that I can't wait to see what Miiki does with another dimension.

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