Monday 26 September
Review by Sam Hearn
Director: Takashi Miike Run Time: 120 minutes
Following on from the success of last film Sukiyaki Western Django, Japanese director, Takashi Miike takes the helm for this remake of the 1963 classic of the same name.
Set during the Edo period, the Samurai and its lineage are waning. The Shogun's younger brother is on a murderous rampage throughout the land. No one will stop him due to his high ranking and thus, he is above the law. Seeing that this situation will become worse if their heir ascends to a higher position, a senior government official secretly hires an old and trusted Samurai called Shinzaemon (Kôji Yakusho) to assassinate the young Lord. He then recruits thirteen other Samurai and together, unleash hell and fury upon the heir and his clan.
Miike is on magnificent form in this film. Every set piece, camera angle, lighting and piece of dialogue is simply a joy for the senses. It seems Miike has decided to focus a lot more on a great story, rather than the more generic hack and slash most Samurai films go for. That isn't to say that he has watered down on the blood splattered action, because there is a lot of it in this film! It starts off with a slow but satisfying simmer. But then, forty-five minutes into the film, you experience some of the greatest choreographed sword fighting action since Kagemusha.
For people who are quite squeamish and dislike the colour red, this film may not be for you. But for people who love international cinema and the Samurai genre, you should watch this as soon as you can. It is a definite classic and with it Takashi Miike may finally give the recognition he deserves, joining the ranks of Akira Kurosawa and Kinji Fukasaku as not only the greatest Japanese directors, but the world's greatest.