Year 1844. The Samurai era is coming to an end. The Shogun's younger brother Lord Naritsugu is an out of this world sadist who rapes and kills just for pleasure. A government official commits suicide in protest on the news of his latest drama and an influential Govt. official, Sir Doi feels it is time to act. He asks a former Samurai officer Shinzaemon to assassinate Lord Naritsugu for the social cause. Shinzaemon makes a team of excellent samurais which itself is not an easy procedure and finally settles for a team of 12 inlcuding himself. They decide to attack Naritsugu and his entourage enroute his journey to home land. A chief Samurai officer, who had earlier worked under Shinzaemon has doubts about the conspiracy and he strengthens the security for the Lord. Shinzaemon and his team is joined by another man in the forest who makes the total of 13. Naritsugu and his entourage is cleverly trapped in a village and in the following battle almost everybody is killed, inlcuding 12 samurais.
For people like me, who watch a Japaneese movie occassionally, initially it felt like this is another Seven Samurais , but actually this movie is a remake of a 60's movie, which was inspired by the Seven Samurais. I havent seen the 60's version, but this is a very good movie.
The movie starts with a low pace, detailing some of the cruelties of Naritsugu. The scene where a woman whose limbs and toungue were cut off by the Lord, is presented to motivate Shinzaemon to accept the job was brilliant and touching. Finally here is a villain in all sense of that word, if given a chance even the audience would jump up and kill. From there on the script and director really make us crave for a win for the Samurais and keep us anticipating till the battle scene. The final battle is excellent, if not brilliant, except for a couple of shots where the CG, may be the only time it was done for the whole battle, looked quite mediocre. Having said that this is one of the best battle scenes we have seen, beautifully captured. Other than the martial art powers of the Samurais we would also appreciate their intelligence.
The movie is beautifully shot and I have to specify the quality of the sound recording in this one. Brilliant.
All the actors did very well but a few did stand out. First of all the actor who played Lord Naritsagu. Then the chief Samurai officer to the Lord. Quite a different role here as he himselves is convinced abou the cruelty of Nartisugu but as a true Samurai he has to protect his Lord though and would give his life for a man who is not worth living.
There is a Ronin in the group of 13 Samurais who is shown as a master of sword work and who is capable of killing a very very large number of people. In the final battle, there is one particular scene where he is beautifully picturised as doing what is expected of him. May be scenes or shots were edited out as I thought this character was not really used. His role in the battle was a kind of diminished one.
This is a work from a director who was famous for his horror kind of movies, but I am sure he must have impressed a lot of critics with this classic entertainer.