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Sometimes a foreign film manages to wangle its way into the hearts of the critics, and it never becomes clear why that is so, what is so special about this one in contrast to all the others. Just recently “I saw the Devil” was a candidate for inexplicable critics’ rave, even though there is at least one split between those who feel the violence in the movie is gratuitous and those who believe it is earned. With “13 Assassins” there is no such split, everybody seems to love it. Except me, it seems. The concept of a savage brute who is protected by his status as the shogun’s brother and abuses this position for arbitrary rape and murder is fair enough. After establishing this, I do not find too many surprises, dramatically or technically, that would have caused me to raise this above almost every other Samurai-Revenge-film of the last  50 years. I do not know that many, but at least Zatoichi the Blind Samurai comes to mind, which has a level of wit, humour and creativity in handling the fights that I do not see in “13 Assassins”. The Assassins that are assembled to bring down the Shogun-brother are quite a bunch, but not a very wild one, and they are certainly no Seven Samurai. Entertaining enough they are, however.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/13_assassins_2011/

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