Now, HERE we go. To heck with the pirates--bring on the SAMURAI!
I had no idea that a Takashi Miike film was going to pop up at the arthouse this weekend--let alone one as epic as this. I knew that I was stuck seeing THOR with my son tomorrow, and that I wouldn't get to go to the movies today as I needed to hang out with my father while my mother attended a special event...
...wait a minute--let's take Dad to the movies! This one's right up his alley...
Great call! Quality time with Dad--AND an excellent film.
Okay--the first thing the critics will tell you is that this is essentially a remake of Kurosawa's SEVEN SAMURAI. No. The similarity is obvious, but this is NOT a remake at all.
For a two-hour-plus movie, the storyline is deceptively simple. Lord Naritsugu (Goro Inagaki) is a psychopath who delights in rape, torture and murder. For the good of feudal Japan, he needs to be taken out. But he has powerful political family connections and he's extremely well-protected. In short, he's legally untouchable.
How bad is Lord Naritsugu? Ask one of his former playthings. She's now a limbless, tongueless torso who clutches a paint brush in her mouth as bloody tears pour from her furious eyes (if you're thinking TITUS ANDRONICUS, join the club--this film proudly maintains the traditional link between Samurai epics and Shakespearean tragedy). What does she want? When she finishes with her parchment, the subtitle declares... TOTAL MASSACRE.
So the local Shogun has no choice but to deliver a completely secret order: a special squad is to be assembled with but one goal--the assassination of Naritsugu.
Miike builds the story slowly and carefully, introducing each and every player as the team comes together--we get plenty of backstory, humorous banter, serious drama and even some broad comic relief before the final team of thirteen readies for business against impossible odds. Now... if they can lure Naritsugu and his entourage into an enclosed area and somehow KEEP them there...
The critics will also tell you that this movie builds up to an amazing final thirty minutes. They're not lying. But don't let what I said about a "slow build" fool you--the film is completely captivating from beginning to end and you won't be looking at your watch.
The material is definitely "hard R," but considering Miike's penchant for graphic violence, it's actually admirably restrained--yes, the village is painted a deep red before it's all over, but Miike resists gratuitous "look at me" moments and never sells the story out for sheer shock value.
By all means, catch this one on the big screen. You won't regret it.
As in not off. If you want to post about mainstream flicks, this is the forum.
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