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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that 13 Assassins is an incredibly violent samurai action movie, from the maverick Japanese cult director Takashi Miike, who is known for some of the most intense movies of the past ten years (including Audition). The final 45 minutes of the movie is a bloody, sustained battle sequence that literally includes rivers of blood, spraying and spurting blood, and hundreds of dead bodies. Weapons used include swords, bows and arrows, fire, and bombs. Rape, the murder of women and children, and the act of hara-kiri are all portrayed off-screen. Most disturbingly, we see one of the villain's victims: a naked woman whose arms, legs, and tongue have been cut off. Additionally, there's some sexual innuendo and some sake drinking. This review applies to the American theatrical release and the DVD/Blu-Ray release, which runs 126 minutes. The original Japanese version, which is not yet officially available in the U.S., runs 141 minutes.
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What's the story?
In 1844, samurai Sinzaemon Shimada (Koji Yakusho) is chosen to assassinate the sadistic sociopath Lord Naritsugu (Goro Inagaki), who likes to cut off the arms and legs of his female companions when he's through with them. For the good of the nation, Naritsugu must be killed before he advances to a more powerful position and leads the country to war. Shimada finds 11 volunteers for this dangerous mission. On the road, they meet the 13th team member, the gleeful, half-mad hunter Koyata Kiga (Yusuke Iseya). Then comes the final battle, in which the assassins attack the evil warlord and his seemingly endless run of guards. Can anyone survive this onslaught?
Is it any good?
A remake of a 1963 movie, this is basically a Seven Samurai, Dirty Dozen-style "assemble the team" film that starts slowly, and keeps moving fairly slowly until the big 45-minute blowout battle. In the lead role, the fine actor Koji Yakusho isn't used to his maximum potential here; he usually has a kind of distant sadness that doesn't quite come across. Moreover, viewers that know director Takashi Miike's other work will find this movie a tad... ordinary.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's bloody violence. How does it affect you? Is it thrilling? Disgusting? Boring? What effect do you think the director was trying to achieve?
Is revenge a good motive in this movie? Does the sheer evilness of the villain justify the heroes' acts?
Are the samurai in this movie good role models? Why or why not?
- On DVD or streaming: July 5, 2011
- Cast: Koji Yakusho, Takayuki Yamada, Yusuke Iseya
- Director: Takashi Miike
- Studios: Magnet Releasing, Magnolia Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 126 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: sequences of bloody violence, some disturbing images and brief nudity
For kids who love action
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.