13 Assassins (movie)

Apr 16 2018

13 Assassins (movie)

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13 Assassins was a movie about a group of samurai in feudal Japan  that are hired to assassinate the shogunate’s brother. This was ordered by the senior adviser to the Shogun after the Shogun’s brother Naritsugu raped his son’s wife and committed multiple murders while as a guest in a Lord’s home. Furthermore, there is a lot of evidence for his cruel and power hungry motives. The senior adviser see that and hires Shinzaemon a very skilled Samurai, to track down and assassinate Naritsugu. With the help of a friend and his nephew Shinzaemon is able to gather 12 men for this mission. This gets complicated when a nearby rich and powerful clan the Ashika get involved and provide at first 70 but ultimately become 200 soldiers for the protection of Naritsugu. The commander of the Ashika, Hanbei and Shinzaemon are former rivals and throughout the middle of the movie try to out think the other in strategy. Even though they are severely outnumbered the 13 Samurai travel through the forest as to not get spotted by the Ashika and then convert a small town Ochiai into a deathtrap ready for the Ashika Army. As the Ashika army passes through Hanbei realizes something is wrong and attempts to flee just to get cut off by explosives and traps at every road. The fight starts off well for the Samurai but the numbers prove to be too great and one by one the are cut down while inflicting major losses in the Ashika army. Towards the end of the battle Shinzamon and Hanbei cross paths at the edge of the town and the battle comes down to a one on one which Shinzaemon wins. Shinzaemon turns his attention to Naritsugu and they have a conversation about ruling and where power truly comes from. Naritsugu is stabbed and shows how scared he is of dying and acts a karmic retribution for all the cruel things he did to innocent people. Shinzaemon finished the job by cutting off his head and dies following the battle wounds he suffered. His final words are a plea to his nephew (the only surviving samurai) to not follow in his footsteps and to do whatever he wants in his life because a Samurais life is a great burden. At the end of the film we see him holding a sword but symbolically putting it down and smiling.

This movie mostly focused with the sense of duty and honor when it comes to being a Samurai in Feudal japan. It tackled the idea of responsibility being a burden for the Samurai since he lives only to die for his master. This movie was set in Japan most notably in the town of Kiso for an important flashback. The final battle takes place Ochiai Japan which is depicted as just a small merchant town in the late 1800’s. They travel through a lot of forest and temperate terrain throughout the movie and I thought they did a good job with their sense of setting. This film related to the course because it depicted feudal Japan around the late 1800’s which is right before the period where the Japanese became more involved with the outside world. In fact at the end of the movie the Nephew wants to go to America and marry a girl there to be able to do anything he wants. This line was interesting and a good historical cue as to what time it is in Japan. It also depicted a lot of Japanese culture including the practice of Harakiri also known as Seppuku which is a cultural and traditional practice of suicide by disembowelment. This was supposed to be a ritualistic and honorable and historically has been used by mostly Samurai. Two people in the movie committed this and it was interesting to see how suicide which is thought of as a horrible thing was considered as the right thing to do in extreme situations especially when it involved honor for Samurais. I thought another big theme in this movie is the idea of progress. This is something we have talked about in class and how sometimes progress isn’t always good or bad. This movie is a transition between the old way of life in Japan (samurais) and a new way of life for the next generation. This is shown by the movie’s use of older men being the most skilled samurai in the battle. Multiple times it was mentioned how there were no great Samurai left and how much of a burden the lifestyle was. The progress made in this case was leaving behind Samurai and facing toward a new world of opportunities for those people. In conclusion I would recommend this movie if you don’t mind reading subtitles. The acting was great, the story was interesting and there was a lot of samurai fighting and more explosions than I thought were possible at that point in history.

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