Sa­mu­rai slice, dice through epic film

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - Go See - By John Bei­fuss bei­fuss@com­mer­cialap­peal.com

A sa­mu­rai battle epic, “13 As­sas­sins” is the first of the al­most 80 fea­tures di­rected over the past 20 years by Ja­pan’s Takashi Mi­ike to earn a Mem­phis the­atri­cal book­ing.

Ad­mired for the di­ver­sity as well as the ra­pid­ity of his out­put, Mi­ike has made di­rect-to-video crime thrillers, chil­dren’s movies and mu­si­cals. His cult rep­u­ta­tion, how­ever, is due to his sta­tus as a sort of en­fant ter­ri­ble of ex­treme, some­times sur­real Ja­panese cin­ema. He prob­a­bly is best known for “Ichi the Killer” (2001), a gory gang­ster saga, and the har­row­ing hor­ror mas­ter­piece “Au­di­tion” (1999), which re­fuses to treat screen vi­o­lence as some­thing purga­tive or cathar­tic.

There’s vi­o­lence aplenty in “13 As­sas­sins,” which con­cludes with a battle se­quence that runs — and leaps and stabs and slices — for al­most 45 of the film’s 126 U.S.-re­lease min­utes (that’s a quar­ter-hour shorter than the orig­i­nal Ja­panese ver­sion). Even so, “13 As­sas­sins” is a fairly con­ven­tional film for Mi­ike, who proves him­self Hol­ly­wood-em­ploy­able, if any Amer­i­can stu­dio is

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