13 Assassins (2010)

Source: Alliance Films: Blu-ray, 2011.

Year: 2010

Director: Takashi Miike

Action Stars

Koji Yakusho

Hiroki Matsukatai

Genre: Samurai Film

Country: Japan

Story Duration: 02:00:05

Act Duration:

1st Act: 00:19:49

2nd Act: 00:25:16

3rd Act: 00:25:57

4th Act: 00:48:51

Plot Turns:

1st: Hanbei Kito orders spying on Doi Toshitsura

2nd: Shimada Shinzaemon formulates plan

3rd: Akashi forces arrive

ASD Ratio: 48%

AAD Ratios:

1st Act: 29%

2nd Act: 10%

3rd Act: 21%

4th Act: 91%

Action Structure: 2314

Action Scenarios

Escape

Fall

Fight

Rescue

Pursuit

Speed

Total Action Moments: 17

1. Weaponization of flaming bulls.
2. Kujuro Hirayama slicing his way through Akashi swordsmen.
3. Shojiro Ogura witnessing the death of his master while dying.
4. Shimada Shinzaemon experiencing an honorable death.
Action Structure

Notable Action Sequence: Town Battle

Duration: 00:44:20

Act: 4th

Action Scenarios:

Escape

Fall

Fight

Pursuit

Rescue

Speed

Description: Amongst the longest action sequences in film history, the town battle at the end of 13 Assassins (2010) is astonishing in many ways. One notable feature is the length of the final act of the film itself, which runs close to 49 minutes to accommodate this monumental set piece. Such extended duration breaks with the widespread practice of dividing a film into sections of equal length, given that the final act is almost as long as the preceding 2nd and 3rd acts combined. The town battle consequently exhibits a developmental structure so that viewers can better parse the sequence, which is divided into four sections. The first section of the sequence consists of the Akashi forces entering into the town, only to discover that the assassins have converted it into an elaborate set of traps, including wooden barriers that prevent escape. While trapped, the Akashi forces have arrows rain down upon them from assassins on rooftops, explosions that blow them to pieces, and are trampled and gored by bulls that have been set on fire [Figure 1]. The second section commences when the assassins shed their bows and arrows and descend to street level to engage directly with Akashi forces and put them on the back foot despite their superior numbers [Figure 2]. However, the battle begins to tip in favor of the Akashi forces when they kill Yasokichi Hioki, the first assassin to die, marking the commencement of the third section of the sequence. The section continues, depicting the deaths of most of the remaining assassins, who are wounded and exhausted in their fight against the larger number of opponents [Figure 3]. The fourth section commences with the seeming escape of Hanbei Kito and Lord Naritsugu Matsudaira, the leaders of the Akashi forces, but their path is blocked by Shimada Shinzaemon, the leader of the assassin party. Two duels follow as Shinzaemon defeats Hanbei and then Naritsugu, but at the cost of his own life [Figure 4]. A series of aftermath shots of dead assassins brings the sequence to a close, motivating the viewer to meditate on the battle and, more broadly, the samurai death culture as a way of life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *