Tuesday, September 20, 2011
We were pretty much down to foreign language films this week... or at least films set in Asia. I came down to a very "chick" sounding film or 13 Assassins.
I'm still not sure it was completely the right choice.
I do like a number of other movies in this genre... Red Cliff, Seven Samurai (even though it almost always makes me doze off), Throne of Blood (the Japanese version of Macbeth) or any of the various Chinese movies where everything ends horribly and the last ten minutes make almost no sense.
And 13 Assassins fits comfortably in along side Seven Samurai... too comfortably in fact I think... I don't really want to use the word "derivative", but it feels similar in both structure and style, although not so much the specifics of what happens.
It also feels somewhat like two movies. The first half is a very quiet yet dialogue heavy drama involving a lot of people sitting around various rooms and talking about things endlessly to the point where I found it very hard to sit comfortably and/or stay completely awake. The second half is where all the action occurs, and is much more interesting, although it did feel a little like I'd seen a lot of it (or versions of the same) before.
It also feels very serious... there's not very much to lighten the mood, and even a couple of times when there were things that I think were supposed to make you laugh, the audience didn't seem to catch them fast enough to react before they were gone again.
Visually it also feels like two movies... the first half is all indoors and dark whereas the action/battle scenes are all outdoors in the middle of the day.
The action section also pushed the boundaries of credibility a couple of times... once with flaming cows (yes... cows... on fire) and the second with an unnecessary and frankly ludicrous waterfall of blood.
For the most part the gore is manageable, and certainly not on Kill Bill (Part One) standards, but they went to town on the sound effects.
Storywise it pretty much delivers what it says on the box... 13 assassins band together to kill the bat-shit crazy brother of the Shogun. And the movie goes out of it's way to show that the aforementioned BSCB really needs killing.
But in the end they really spend half of the movie talking about what they need to do and the second half doing it and not talking very much at all.
yani's rating: 6 flaming cows out of 10