13 Assassins review: Swords at the ready for Japan"s Quentin Tarantino
Swords at the ready for Japan”s Tarantino
3:09 PM on 6th May 2011
Verdict: Violent but classy
Here”s a handsomely mounted samurai movie that starts off as a sumptuous homage to the old Japanese master, Akira Kurosawa.
It suffers from an inordinately protracted middle section that should have been half an hour shorter, but turns into the kind of bloodbath you would expect from Tarantino.
It’s probably the most commercial film yet by Takashi Miike, the prolific Japanese director who has been known to make 12 movies in one year.
Samurais at the ready: This big-budget bloodbath is surprisingly classy
His output ranges from the supremely unpleasant but memorable horror film Audition to the outrageously camp zombie musical Happiness Of The Katakuris, which featured the worst pop songs ever heard outside the Eurovision Song Contest and dance routines that looked like drunks attempting semaphore while stamping on an infestation of cockroaches.
British producer Jeremy Thomas has found Miike a bigger-than-usual budget and he has responded with his classiest film. The scoring by Koji Endo and sound design are both outstanding.
Don’t expect deep characterisation or subtle humour. The big surprise is its moralistic conclusion: that violence, sadism and gratuitous bloodshed are deeply wrong.
You may feel this is a tad hypocritical after the previous 44 minutes of spectacular carnage, not to mention the rest of his cheerfully exploitative career.
But for Mr Miike it’s a welcome sign that — at the age of 50 — he may be growing up.