I don't go to the cinema very often these days (in my job I get to see films for free on the Bluray/DVD release), but with some films I can't miss out on the opportunity of seeing them on the big screen!
I'm a big fan of Asian epics, martial arts and samurai films are one of my biggest passions! And I love shock director Takashi Miike, although with all the critical acclaim and buzz around '13 Assassins' it was hard to believe it was the controversial director at the helm. It seemed a bit too 'classy' for Miike, with no disrespect meant by that, I think he's proud of the 'trash-cinema' he's been behind over the years and I would be too...
I had to see it at the cinema, it wasn't every day you got to see a Japanese Samurai movie on the big screen in the UK! I went to see it with the missus during the first week and sadly it was almost empty, a bonus really, because we got the big screen all to ourselves!
It's a slow burner; after a harrowing and brutal intro, reminding you it was in fact a full-blown Miike film, the first half shapes the story and characters and builds the tension. Despite following several characters, I felt something for all of the main cast and it does a good job fleshing everything out. I did find it dragged a little at times, although that could have been because I wasn't in the comfort of my own home. It's good old-fashioned filmmaking at its finest, it takes its time to tell a good story and the pay-off is exceptional! The last half of the film is one big battle royale to the death!
The 45 minute battle sequence is one of the most spectacularly amazing pieces of cinema I have ever seen. The choreography spellbinds you with its brutality and rawness! Jaw-dropping stuff! And the cinematography deserves special mention. There's some truly masterful camera work at play here, Miike has several moments of pure genius!
I would have preferred a few more scuffles in the first half, but the last half of the film more than makes up for that!