13 Assassins

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
13 Assassins
Thirteen Assassins.jpg
Japanese film poster
Directed by Takashi Miike
Produced by
Screenplay by Daisuke Tengan
Story by Shōichirō Ikemiya
Music by Kōji Endō
Cinematography Nobuyasu Kita
Edited by Kenji Yamashita
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 25 September 2010 (2010-09-25) (Japan)
  • 6 May 2011 (2011-05-06) (United Kingdom)
Running time
125 minutes[1]
  • Japan
  • United Kingdom
Language Japanese
Budget $6 million[2]
Box office $17.1 million

13 Assassins (Japanese: 十三人の刺客 romaji: Jūsannin no Shikaku?) is a 2010 Japanese jidaigeki (period drama) film directed by Takashi Miike.[3] The screenplay was written by Daisuke Tengan.[2] The film is a remake of Eiichi Kudo’s 1963 black-and-white Japanese film of the same name, Jûsan-nin no shikaku. A samurai epic with a loose historical basis,[4] the film was produced by Toshiaki Nakazawa, who also produced the 2009 winner of Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film Departures.[2]

The film stars Kōji Yakusho, whose credits include Memoirs of a Geisha and Shall We Dance, along with Takayuki Yamada, Sōsuke Takaoka, Hiroki Matsukata, and Kazuki Namioka.[5] It is the third film in which Yamada and Takaoka co-starred, the first two being Crows Zero and Crows Zero 2, both directed by Miike. It was nominated for Best Film at the 34th Japan Academy Prize.[6]


In Japan of the 1840s, as the Tokugawa Shogunate faces extinction, a corrupt lord named Matsudaira Naritsugu of Akashi freely rapes, tortures, and murders his own citizens. He is protected because the Shogun is his half-brother. The Justice Minister realizes, however, the threat posed if Naritsugu should further ascend and hires a trusted older Samurai, Shinzaemon, to ambush and murder Naritsugu. Unfortunately, the conversation is overheard by the Samurai Hanbei, a childhood friend of Shinzaemon, who has persisted in loyalty toward Naritsugu.

Shinzaemon gathers 11 more Samurai to be his Assassins, among them his own nephew Shinroukuro, and comes up with the plan of ambushing Naritsugu on his official journey from Edo back to Akashi. With the legal authority and financial assistance of the Justice Minister, the Assassins empty out the small town of Ochiai and build numerous traps and fortifications inside of it. Meanwhile, a minor lord whose daughter-in-law was raped and whose only son was murdered by Naritsugu obstructs the official highway, guaranteeing that Naritsugu must travel the Ochiai route.

Around this time, the Assassins are on the road when they are ambushed by Ronins paid off by Hanbei. They travel through the mountains for cover but get lost in the forest. In the process they encounter a hunter named Kiga Koyata, who guides them out of the forest and is adopted by them as the 13th Assassin.

After the Assassins arrive at Ochiai, they discover Naritsugu and his entourage have disappeared. When Naritsugu finally arrives at Ochiai, it is discovered that he has been reinforced. Instead of facing 70 soldiers, the Assassins must fight through 200. A lengthy battle with Naritsugu and the soldiers follows.

The 13 assassins[edit]

(Character names follow the pattern of Japanese names, with the family surname placed first)

  • Shimada Shinzaemon (Kōji Yakusho) – The leader of the group, a war weary, decorated samurai who believes that there is more to Bushido than blind obedience. Having believed that there was no chance for an honorable death, he is deeply elated when hired to carry out the mission.
  • Kuranaga Saheita (Hiroki Matsukata) – Second in command to Shinzaemon, another veteran samurai who volunteers his best and most trusted students to join the group.
  • Hioki Yasokichi (Sōsuke Takaoka) – A highly skilled samurai from Kuranaga's dojo.
  • Ōtake Mosuke (Seiji Rokkaku) – A plump-faced samurai with a jovial demeanor, but remains a tenacious fighter.
  • Horii Yahachi (Kōen Kondō) – A skilled samurai from Kuranaga's dojo who trained with Gennai in the use of explosives.
  • Higuchi Gennai (Yūma Ishigaki) – Horii's demolition partner, a tough and skilled samurai who trained with Yahachi in the use of explosives.
  • Mitsuhashi Gunjirō (Ikki Sawamura) – Another samurai from Kuranaga's dojo who prepares Ochiai to trap their victim.
  • Hirayama Kujūrō (Tsuyoshi Ihara) – A ronin of unmatched swordsmanship, who trained under Shinzaemon.
  • Ogura Shōujirō (Masataka Kubota) – A young samurai disciple of Hirayama, untested in battle but with unwavering devotion and skills to match.
  • Shimada Shinrokurō (Takayuki Yamada) – Shinzaemon's nephew, he has strayed from Bushido to become a gambler and a womanizer. Bored and ashamed, he joins the mission to redeem himself.
  • Ishizuka Rihei (Kazuki Namioka) – A skilled and courageous samurai who joined the mission with Sahara.
  • Sahara Heizō (Arata Furuta) – An elder ronin, battle scarred and hardened, who favors the yari (spear) over the katana (sword).
  • Kiga Koyata (Yūsuke Iseya) – A hunter who is found suspended in a cage in the forest as a punishment for seducing his boss's wife and aids the assassins in finding a route to Ochiai as well as in combating the enemy samurai.


The film was produced through Nakazawa's entity Sedic International and Thomas' Recorded Picture Company. Nakazawa had previously worked with Miike on Sukiyaki Western Django, both Young Thugs movies, Andromedia, Yakuza Demon, and The Bird People in China.[7]

Principal photography began in July 2009 on a large open-air set in Tsuruoka in the Yamagata Prefecture, northern Japan.[5] On the advent of production, Thomas said he was pleased to be again working with "wonderful Japanese filmmakers like Toshiaki Nakazawa and Takashi Miike, whose work speaks for itself as being amongst the most successful and innovative coming from Japan."[7] Nakazawa replied that he would like Thomas "to wear a sword also, and with one more assassin, together we will send out the fourteen assassins over there."[7] The film wrapped in September 2009.[5]


Thomas' London-based company HanWay Films is handling international sales, and launched the film at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.[2] Toho had prebought the rights to distribute the film in Japan.[7] The film competed for the Golden Lion at the 67th Venice International Film Festival.[8]

The film was released on VOD, and subsequently DVD and Blu-ray Disc in the United States on 5 July 2011 by Magnet Releasing, an arm of Magnolia.


The film 13 Assassins was met with acclaim from critics with an aggregate score of 96% on Rotten Tomatoes and a summary of "Takashi Miike's electric remake of Eiichi Kudo's 1963 period action film is a wild spectacle executed with killer, dizzying panache."[9] Film critic Roger Ebert described the film as "terrifically entertaining, an ambitious big-budget epic, directed with great visuals and sound" and compared it favorably to other action films in its subtle use of CGI effects. Ebert also praised the way the film "focuses on story in the midst of violence," incorporating characters and drama with a skill that most blockbuster action films lack.[10] Ebert later included it in his "Best Films of 2011" list as an addendum to his top 20.[11]

In 2014, Time Out polled several film critics, directors, actors and stunt actors to list their top action films.[12] 13 Assassins was listed at 94th place on this list.[13]


  1. ^ "13 Assassins (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 16 February 2011. Retrieved 4 November 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d Cooper, Sarah (2009-08-13). "Shooting gets underway on Takashi Miike's Thirteen Assassins". Screen International. Retrieved 2010-04-07. 
  3. ^ Rose, Steve (2003-07-02). "Guardian Interview: Has Takashi Miike made the most violent film ever?". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 1 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-07. 
  4. ^ "Takashi Miike Interview". easternkicks.com. Retrieved 18 December 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c Shilling, Mark (2009-08-20). "Yakusho joins 'Thirteen Assassins' – Film is remake of 1963 hit samurai actioner". Variety. Retrieved 2010-04-07. 
  6. ^ 第 34 回日本アカデミー賞優秀賞 (in Japanese). Japan Academy Prize. Retrieved 2010-12-17. 
  7. ^ a b c d Kemp, Stuart (2009-05-12). "Duo gets behind Thirteen Assassins". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 15 May 2009. Retrieved 2010-04-07. 
  8. ^ "Venezia 67". labiennale.org. 2010-07-29. Archived from the original on 1 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-29. 
  9. ^ "13 Assassins (2011)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-11-26. 
  10. ^ Ebert, R (2011-05-25). "13 Assassins". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2012-11-26. 
  11. ^ Ebert, R (15 December 2011). "The Best Films of 2011". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 5 January 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-26. 
  12. ^ "The 100 best action movies". Time Out. Retrieved November 7, 2014. 
  13. ^ "The 100 best action movies: 100-91". Time Out. Retrieved November 7, 2014. 

External links[edit]