13 Assassins (2011) Review

It’s a Samurai film! Bring on the Katana swinging Japanese. This film shows great spectacle using samurai and historical fighting in amazing choreography which delivers on realism. The films main selling point to me is its few against many battles, which in the end is 13 samurai against 200 elite guard (seems fair). There are very few foreign films I watch but I have been seeing more recently which make me want to keep looking out for more international films from the east. Interestingly enough I think this is the first film from japan I have reviewed and it’s good.

Based on actual events that served as the inspiration for the 1963 film of the same name, Takashi Miike’s 13 Assassins follows a group of noble samurai as they seek to slay a tyrannical, politically connected lord before he seizes control of the entire country. Japan, 1844: as the era of the samurai winds to a close, a sadistic young lord uses his powerful political ties to commit heinous atrocities against the common people. Recognizing the dangers to both his country and its citizens should the lord manage to gain any more power, a concerned government official secretly recruits 13 of the most skilled swordsmen he can find to defeat the evil lord once and for all. But reaching their target won’t be easy, because the elusive lord is constantly flanked by legions of fearless bodyguards. Realizing that the bodyguards would decimate his modest task force in a traditional battle, the assassins’ leader (Koji Yakusho) lays an ingenious trap that will give his men the upper hand, and waits patiently for their prey to take the bait.

The best advice I can give to readers is if you like a great sword swinging samurai film then watch this film, because it will really be something you haven’t seen in that genre before and it’s great.

Tim’s Film Reviews Recommended: If you can find a copy of this then watch it, I had great difficulty finding it so good luck with that.


To start off let’s talk about the acting. This should be interesting for me as I can’t really study their faces or anything since I am reading the subtitles, which is hard for me because I am dyslexic. In terms of acting ability the only points I could pick up where that the bad guy was being sadistically cruel (seriously he’s an evil bastard) and the good guys where brave, honourable and kick ass (one of them is even funny). Which when you think about it is what a real action film with insane bad ass katana swinging action needs. The early part of this film appears to be about getting across the idea that Lord Naritsugu was pretty damn evil and he needed to be killed so that war didn’t descend upon Japan, well it certainly worked for me and some things they showed made me want to jump into the screen pick up a katana and start swinging. I could jibber on about acting some more but I don’t really have a good point to go off, so instead let’s talk about the action scenes awwwwwwyyeeaaaahhhh! The action scenes were very well laid out and for the most part very fluent with great fighting choreography. The action scenes near the end were really amazing to watch like a Great War epic in a smaller setting. It benefited from a smart finale which paired daring special effects, deep emotional deaths and truly breath-taking sword fights, seriously it starts with 213 and ends with 2, everyone else is slaughtered…big time!

He’s my favorite Assassin

The best part about this film I think is how it starts off gathering its samurai assassins for a nearly suicidal mission, which for samurai is a great way to prove bravery and honor before they die. I generally like a lot of samurai history and know quite a bit about it, this film whilst not completely true is based off some true events and the way the whole film feels really takes you back to the time, and let’s face it everyone loves a story of good vs. evil where good is outnumber but still prevails. The special effects in this film were pretty much just sword wounds, explosions, and the odd bull on fire haha seriously there’s a scene where about five bulls charge down a street with something on their back in flames. The fight scenes and action scenes in general where spectacular to see, plenty of katana swinging and heads flying. The best thing I felt about this films look was the way that everything moved with Realistic sword fighting which made for great viewing.

Must Watch Trailer:


The best review I found would be “’13 Assassins’ has what many action pictures need, a villain who transcends evil and ascends to a realm of barbaric madness.” Roger Ebert. Yep it does have that! And I agree that more action films need a bad guy that’s so bad the you too wish to beat the shit out the villain. My favourite scene without giving anything away would be near the end battle when Kuranaga stands before Lord Naritsugu and his men and when Lord Naritsugu asks who he is he responds that he is Kuranaga and that he is there to kill him, which then leads to an amazing battle between one man and about 30 other samurai, just great.


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About Tim The Film Guy

Very opinionated about films!

13 responses to “13 Assassins (2011) Review”

  1. The Focused Filmographer says :

    Ooh, you got to see this one. I haven’t yet. Haven’t seen a good samurai flick in a while. I may try to check this one out soon. Thanks for the review


  2. David Abrams says :

    That 13 assassins trailer looks great and you seem to have really enjoyed it so I will have to check this out. Thanks for the review.


  3. Sam Fragoso says :

    It’s really good fun — especially after about an hour of pure build up, leading up to some amazingly set and designed action sequences.

    Good review. Glad you enjoyed it as much as I did (along with plenty of others). Evidently the film made my top 20 of last year.


  4. Victor De Leon says :

    geez, I need to see this movie stat, good review, thanks.


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