The "Unforgiven" of samurai movies. Impressionistic "action painter" battle scenes. Exuberant yet grounded and grown up lead performance by Kôji Yakusho.
Preparations for the mission go rather slowly, since the group must be selected, man by man, in the consecrated style of "Ocean's 11." Nine assassins might have done nicely, or Kurosawa's seven, but the build-up is sustained by the movie's seriousness of purpose—it's about the blind devotion that tyrants can inspire—and the engaging heroism of the group's leader, Shinzaemon (Kôji Yakusho). When asked to take on the mission by the shogun's senior adviser, Shinzaemon says "I will accomplish your wish with magnificence." As things turn out, that's no idle promise.David Edelstein:
...a surprisingly classical epic in the Seven Samurai mode by Japanese bad boy Takashi Miike. The solemn first half centers on the assembly of a team to kill the shogun’s psychotically cruel half-brother—not an easy decision in a culture with no tradition of vigilantism. But these are the kind of men who live to die well: “He who values his life dies a dog’s death.” The second half of the film, in which our band of thirteen traps the half-brother’s army in an evacuated village they proceed to demolish, has a mixture of bloodletting and exultation that would make Sam Peckinpah sit up in his grave and howl with pleasure.See also: