DVD OF THE WEEK: 13 Assassins
by Vadim Rizov
Takashi Miike chooses the strangest times to assert himself. By IMDB's count, since 1991 he's directed or is wrapping up some 85 titles; if he's no longer cranking out five films a year, inconsistency is still his hallmark. Miike's best known for both Audition—Ozu meets torture porn—and a series of films that alternate between inspiration and filler with very little warning. If Miike was a band, he'd have an awesome greatest-hits disc that would make you get rid of all the albums proper. 13 Assassins is Miike's first film to see American release since 2008's Sukiyaki Western Django, a bizarre but amusing exercise in reconstructing the spaghetti western with Japanese people speaking phonetic English. Aside from that minor twist, Miike basically played the genre straight, showing his love for patchy action films with great setpieces by making one of his own. 13 Assassins is similarly devoted to the conventions of Japanese samurai cinema: if you enjoy watching shogun rulers greet visitors with ceremonious bows and robe re-arranging, you've come to the right place. The international cut's shorn of 16 minutes, mostly having to do with the titular warriors hitting up a brothel the night before the big battle, a three-reel stunner that effectively comprises the entire third act; the international cut is a strictly all-male affair.