Friday, August 5, 2011

13 Assassins

It's Friday night and I have the house to myself, so I decided I would pour a glass of wine and watch a movie. After spending about half an hour yelling at Netflix for having too many options (because it's definitely not my fault for not even knowing a genre of film that I would like to watch), I finally settled on a list of ten possible films to watch for the evening. I settled on 13 Assassins for a number of reasons that I won't necessarily get into here, now, or ever. This is probably around the time when I should mention that 13 Assassins is my first Japanese film, which is terrible given my overall love of movies and especially given my love of horror movies. Seeing as how this movie is Takashi Miike's most recent film, I started with this one (even though both Audition and Ichi the Killer are both also featured in my queue). Also a good place to note that if I get anything wrong about the plot or whatever, forgive me. I was drinking wine. And tweeting. And coming up with this great idea for a blog I should start.

Speaking of starting, best place to start might be my summary of the movie. About half an hour or so into the film, I stopped to ask myself what the movie was about. What I gathered was that it was like Lord of the Rings, but the fellowship had thirteen people instead of nine and their mission was to get a sword (the ring) into the evil Lord killing civilians (the fires of Mount Doom). I could also describe it as being like 300 because it was a small group of samurais fighting against a way larger group of the Lord's men, but I haven't seen 300 so I feel less likely to make this connection.

Here is where I insert my attempt at being all film-buffy. Cinematographically, the film was shot much like a Western. I should insert the caveat of not having seen every Western, only a handful (and probably not some of the most well known). You know, I'm totally having a moment where I feel like I haven't seen any where near enough movies to be writing a blog where I hope to focus on movies and make bold statements like, "it was shot like a Western". I'll get on that. And write about them! Or not. Maybe. At least I read a lot about film (and have a brain full of useless trivia to which many of my friends can attest). Anyway, back to what I was saying about Westerns. I had this brilliant thought and of course had to tweet about it. The world needed to know. Not even a minute later, I had a second thought along the Western track. It might have been the fleet of horses storming into the battlefield (probably not the right term for where the fighting was taking place, but it works) that reminded me of the period of the movie being the mid-1840s. Oh, that makes sense. Horses everywhere, lack of modern technology, samurais. It all makes sense now. Still, the framing of the faces and the editing style, especially in the scenes of expository dialogue, were very Westernesque.

My moment of "this needs definitely needs to be shared with the world" came about near the middle of the epic battle. Not really sure what was happening in addition to the fighting, but all of a sudden there was a flood of some sort of deep red liquid overflowing from the top of the housing structures. Logically, I wondered if it was blood or cranberry juice (and promptly tweeted such musing). What is really important here is that I didn't even consider for a second that it would be red wine! I mean, it wasn't any of those three and was most likely just a metaphor for massive amounts of bloodshed. Seriously, like a hundred people had died at this point.

And my last random comment was shared to a friend, and not to Twitter. I think part of my confusion about all that was going on was the similarity of the names. It's like a Russian novel where all of the 5,000 characters have very long and often similar sounding names to go along with their intricate relations to one another. I'm a visual person a diagram showing the names of the people, their role, and how they were connected to one another would have helped everyone know exactly what was going on. Might only help me, but that's a good place to start.

I don't know if I can fully comment on the film overall. Like, I don't think I could give it any sort of rating. I was too distracted and I haven't seen enough of Miike's work to compare it to anything else. Maybe after watching a few more selection from his filmography as well as other Japanese films will allow me to have some more insight. Maybe I should watch some more Westerns or something. Really, I just need to get back into watching more movies, something I miss and makes me truly happy. And with the added benefit of being able to randomly make notes and publish it as a legitimate blog post makes it that much better!

That might be the best conclusion I can come up with right now. I'll get better about this, I promise. Or maybe I shouldn't promise such a bold thing. I promise to try to get better at concluding my rambling blogposts.


  1. 1) film-buffy - I read this as if you were the film version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Made that whole statement way more hilarious.

    2) Which westerns have you seen so we can better appreciate the analogy? Or at least the ones that inspired the reference.

    3) I think you should create the diagram of characters.

    4) job well done. I hate horror films and am not a huge foreign film fan and you have made me willing to see this movie. Tough thing to do.

  2. First and foremost, love the blog :D
    Don't worry about striving to be funny, I've been in stitches the whole time reading this!

    Secondly, I believe the Dirty Dozen may also have been an influencing factor in this movie. Same vague plot (from what I gather) but replace the 13 samurai with 12 US convicts trained to be army dudes who fight against the entire Nazi Army... basically, epic-osity to the max.

  3. "Really long similar sounding names and intricate relations"? Sounds like 100 Years of Solitude, lol!