If there is a director that sums up the Asian Extreme genre its Japanese dude Takishi Mike. I have seen a lot of his movies, Audition, Dead or Alive, Zaitochi, the Happiness of the Katakuris and Gozo to name but five. He does everything from horror to love story and is rather good, this one a remake of the 1963 film Elichi Kudo. And when you watch these movies you cant really beat the martial arts ones, 13 Assassins certainly that as the ancient Samurai swing those razor sharp swords and the limbs fly!
It’s the 1840s….
Japan and the revered Tokugawa Shogunate face extinction as the Samurai clans are sworn to peace and somewhat bored. A corrupt and psychopathic lord named Matsudaira Naritsugu (Gorô Inagaki) of Akashi is finding other ways to amuse himself, mostly by rape, torture and murder of his own citizens of his region, be it with his sword or bow and arrow from 10 feet in his living room. Sadly for Japan he is protected and favored because the Shogun is his half-brother. The Justice Minister is less impressed and realizes the threat he poses if this guy should further ascend the regal hierarchy and so lead Japan into insane wars and conflict.
Trusted older Samurai of another Samurai clan, Shinzaemon (Kôji Yakusho), is quietly hired against the wish of the majority Samurai clans to ambush and murder Naritsugu and wipe out his men, the honor of avenging those that died cruelly at Naritsugu’s hand. As he begins hiring and rounding up some top Samurai fighters, his furtive conversations are overheard by the Samurai Hanbei (Yakubi Zioti), a childhood friend of Shinzaemon. Samurai Hanbei and joins the posse.
The plan is to attack the Lord and his entourage on the official Ochiai trade route between his home state of Edo and Ashati, on a tour of other states to pay respect to Samurai clans. The 12 assassins become 13 when they pick up Kiga Koyata (Yûsuke Iseya), a Tarzan like oddball character who guides them through the woods when they are lost.
The chosen ambush will be a small town not on Naritsugu’s route. A minor lord whose daughter-in-law was raped and whose only son was murdered by Naritsugu accepts a bribe from Shinzaemon to obstruct the official highway, guaranteeing that Naritsugu and his man must travel the diversion to the trap in that small town. As brave as the 13 Assassins plan is, the original 70 soldiers protecting Samurai Naritsugu are now 200 and not a fair fight. But the Samurai are sworn to die for the cause and highly skilled and inventive as they fortify the town and so the battle of honor for all begins.
You know what this is going to be and exactly that, what you crave. You want heads rolling like bowling balls, swords swooshing off limbs. It’s traditionally done too, no Manga blood spurting or exaggerated tongue-in-cheek carnage here, refreshingly so, all about the honor and tradition of the samurai. If a decapitation is needed we get one. If its not, we don’t. What’s cool is the fights are not that chop suey Jack Chan stuff and correctly choreographed. In those days the sword fight didn’t last very long and you were hacked up on the floor to complete the kill so your enemies got scared and ran. The traditional swords were so sharp that just by moving the blade at 10 mph it could cut deep into a limb.
The film culminates in a riveting, ingeniously plotted, and inventively shot 45-minute battle scene. It’s certainly the longest sword fight I have seen since making the wrong turning in Central park. It’s a much fresher experience than would seem likely for such a well-trodden genre and has more of the feel of the 1963 original. There is a lot more to ancient Japan than Kimonos and sharp swords and this tries to tie in real history with myth and legend around that time. Because of that past of honor and tradition the Japanese were so awful and sadistic in World War Two as they saw only shame in losing battles and so couldn’t understand why the prisoners of war wouldn’t kill themselves for losing. What they couldn’t contemplate is it took more courage to stay alive in spite of their barbarism and to fight again. They still don’t have an official army, navy and air force today because of the shame of surrender in 1945.
It cost a surprisingly cheap $6 million and looks fantastic for what it is but did $17 million back and so not a great deal if you consider there are 200 million people in Japan. Maybe the domestic audiences are tired of the old Japan Samurai cliché. I am not. I love all these films and snap them all up on Film4. Takishi Mike is especially good at this genre and always just enough humor, insight and action to keep you enthralled.
You really do have to be a couch potatoe to sit all day and watch this stuff! I don't usually watch daytime TV but I was ill recently, so I took the opportunity of finding out what all the fuss about Breeze was. A few people had told me that it is like a womens' magazine and really interesting. (I don't think.) It is really boring. The programmes are mostly about household matters, cooking, gardening and the like. Sometimes we are treated to half an hour of mindless prattle when they have a chat show. Sky TV should get rid of this rubbish like Cable already has and put something that doesn't put you to sleep in its place.
I read so much about Breeze before I actually got digital TV that I was really looking forward to watching it. It was described as a women's magazine type programme and although I don't watch much daytime TV I thought it would be the sort of channel that you could switch on for half an hour while having lunch, or coffee. It wasn't what I expected. There are too many cookery programmes and DIY, or decorating type things. The rest of the time is taken up with poorly produced chat shows. These get very repetitive after a couple of days. The only good thing about this channel is the 'Psychic Livetime Show' which is on Fridays (twice) and Sundays. The subject matter could be interesting but it isn't presented in a very exciting way. Derek Akorah who does the psychic readings on the show is the only good thing about it. He is a real showman and wears some gorgeous outfits. Apart from this Breeze has very little to offer. If you read 'Woman's Own' or 'My Weekly' you might find the content appealing. If not, switch off and save your electricity, or watch something else.
Well so far this is the worst channel I have had the misfortune to view, crap cookery programmes and not much else. I guess it’s aimed at the housewife as I have caught my mother watching it a few times. You see a lot of Julia Carling on his minor channel. This channel is available on Sky Digital, Analogue and Cable although why you want to watch I will never Know. On digital it doesn’t even become men and motors at 9pm so no rest bite there.
I know it's sad, but this is great! Judge Joe Brown is the male equivalent of Judge Judy, and like her this man takes no crap from the people that come into his court!! While some of the cases may seem petty and just plain stupid, it's worth watching just to see them get bawled out of court by Judge Joe. Like the woman who was divorcing her husband who was killed but then refused to pay anything towards his funeral, or the teenage boyfriend and girlfriend who were 'playing house' together. I'm always dubious as to how real these cases are, but who cares when they get shouted at by Judge Joe? It's got to be worth watching just for the comic value alone.
During the day this channel is one of the worst channels that I have ever seen, dodgy cooking porgrams and housemakeovers - you know just the stuff that your mam would like to watch day in day out. But if you wait till 9pm it becomes Men and Motors GRRRRR... watch those tostestorone levels sore as the only programs shown on this channel relate to women (ususally some sorts of sex) and car's and car crashes. This is a perfect thing to watch when you come in from the pub wankered. Especially all the stunts and crashes... I always seem to miss all the bits about sex... grr Cheers Alex
Sounds like a new brand of washing powder? In a way, it is! This is, dare I say it these days, a wimmin's channel, and makes no apologies about it. After all, Granada has Men and Motors for us lads (wthout getting much stick about its Jeremy Clarkson meets page 3 style), so why not get a away with something that is modelled on the copies of Woman's Own my mother used to get when I was young. Cookery tips, baby programmes, a chat show hosted by Donny & Marie Osmond: what more could modern woman want? Sorry, got to go, my tongue has been in my cheek for so long, it has got stuck!