Sunday, December 9, 2012

13 Assassins

I am HUGE Takashi Miike fan. I got first turned on to him through the film Audition (which I wasn’t a huge fan of), but then was blown away Ichi the Killer. Ichi was unbelievably violent, but so aesthetically pleasing it was hard to look away. I never imagined Miike creating a period piece, especially because of knowing his track record. Since this is my second time watching 13 Assassins, I tried to pay particular attention to the camera movement and usage this time around, particularly in the epic battle scene. Miike makes sure that you never miss a beat of what is happening. If someone is going to die, you’re going to see explicitly how. The camera follows these assassins through EVERY single death in the entire battle scene, making it seem like you are a part of the action. I almost felt unsafe being so up-close to it. That’s what sets this apart from any other action film I have seen: even thought he POV is not of the assassins themselves (usually), you feel like you are fighting along with them. It’s hard to explain, but an amazing feeling once you get it.

What I noticed during my second viewing also was that Miike really relies on character development just as much as action. Since the first hour or so of the film is just a lead up to the battle, we are thrown into the lives of these assassins. By doing so, they don’t become just mere killing machines, but instead real people who you can sympathize with and want to survive. Even if the mass slaying does not seem very just as a whole, you come to realize that these men are truly fighting for a greater good out of their OWN goodness. The enemies may not be bad and are just doing their jobs as well, but we are indebted to the assassins. When the enemies die by the handful, it doesn’t leave much compassion. But when one of the assassins dies, it is very heart wrenching, because you almost get the feeling that they are immortal.

Miike is a genius. Watch Ichi The Killer or Audition. They'll totally mess with your head.

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