13 Assassins—Magnet

Video: 4/5
Audio: 4/5
Extras: 3/5

Cult director Takashi Miike delivers a bravado period action film set at the end of Japan's feudal era in which a group of unemployed samurai are enlisted to bring down a sadistic lord and prevent him from ascending to the throne and plunging the country into a war torn future.

Magnet delivers a solid presentation for this welcome addition to the Samurai genre. The film has more polish than I’m used to seeing from a Miike film, but it isn’t quite as razor sharp as we’re used to from big-budget Hollywood productions. The natural photography is a nice departure from the overly processed stuff out of Hollywood though. Colors aren’t bathed in teal and gold hues and convey the beautiful Japanese countryside perfectly and fine detail is strong in brighter scenes. Darker moments do soften up a tad and at times can lack depth, but this is rarely a distraction. No compression artifacts were noticed and even though there are quite a few moments of fog in this one, no banding was ever evident. The DTS-HD Master Audio mix is presented in both the original Japanese dub and an English option. I opted for the original soundtrack which, like the video, doesn’t do a lot to take away from the action onscreen. Bass is punctuated perfectly when needed and the end battle is a nice array of sword slashing and score that fills the room with the chaos of war. The balance is perfect throughout and never feels gimmicky.

Extras include an interview with the director along with a behind the scenes look at the production. You also get some trailers and deleted scenes. Magnet has also included a digital copy of the film for you portable devices.

This isn’t the kind of film I would expect from Takashi Miike. Sure it is violent, but it isn’t as over the top as his typical cult fare. Instead we have a brilliant addition to the Samurai genre that doesn’t relent in its action or depiction of swordplay violence. It has some unnerving moments typical of a Miike film, but shows more restraint than I’m used to from his camp. Highly recommended!