Samurai slice, dice through epic film
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