Cult director Takeshi Miike (Ichi the Killer, Audition) 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 wartorn future.
Principal photography for 13 Assassins was accomplished in summer 2009 on a large open-air set in Tsuruoka in the Yamagata Prefecture in northern Japan. The film is a remake of Eichi Kudo’s 1963 black-and-white movie of the same name, Jûsan-nin no shikaku. 13 Assassins was executive produced by Toshiaki Nakazawa (producer of Departures, 2009 Academy Award Winner for Best Foreign Film) for Japan’s Sedic International, Jeremy Thomas (Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor, Nagisa Oshima’s Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, Takeshi Kitano’s Brother) for Recorded Picture Company (UK), and Takashi Hirajo of Japan’s TV Asahi Corporation. Nakazawa previously worked with Miike on Sukiyaki Western Django, Andromedia , Yakuza Demon and The Bird People in China.
Comments from Director Takashi Miike
Sword-fighting scenes are about love. Without brotherly love, we could not shoot such violent sword-fighting scenes. Of course, I worked with the fight choreographer scene-by scene. That is also love… The sets whipped up the fighting spirit among the actors. But the sets were created with the actors’ safety in mind. Needless to say, thanks to the instructions from our very talented art director and his talented staff.
I love the food of Yamagata, where the shooting took place. Eating simply is always best. The location was not practical, but it was well-matched with the scenery. I loved the outdoor set which we found and re-created.
Planning the amount of blood and violence in a film can only be decided by inevitability. For any film that I make, I never see similar films for reference. The most important thing about remaking a classic movie is how much you respect the original movie. I didn’t worry about putting my own mark on the remake since I respected the original film. I have never sought to impose my personality on a film. My philosophy as a director has always been to set aside my ego and just enjoy making the film.
There is no hard historical proof to back up this legendary battle in 13 Assassins. However, I do believe it’s true that samurai did not fear risking their lives, and they fought against their enemies regardless how many they were. The pleasure of making a Jidaigeki (samurai period drama) film is that the characters can achieve in only one night what would otherwise take 100 days in a contemporary story… I always seek universal themes when making a Jidaigeki film. Love beget Revenge and Justice beget Violence.
I have worked with the same sound team in several films. The team pretty much understands my goal when they see the edited film. Even if there are misunderstandings, that only bring something new to the film… I have been working with composer Koji Endo for more than 10 years. He’s a genius when it comes to hearing what the film needs.
Like the sound team, I usually work with the same CGI team. I do give very detailed instructions, but the team understands my basic taste even if I don’t elaborate. With CGI, I do not create things that are not possible to create in reality. I only create real things that just look better when created with CGI.
Not only for this film, but I always wish that there was no such thing as an alarm clock. If I’m late, I blame whoever invented the snooze function.
I love the act of shooting itself and I am always seeking something in which I can get absorbed. It’s like an addiction.
I may be chasing a dream that I might never accomplish. I find creative freedom through low budget projects. I seek out even more freedom through the experiences of making films like 13 Assassins. And I think it’s about time to go wild once again!
For more information: http://www.13assassins.com/