Bad boy of Japanese cinema Takashi Miike delivers a jaw-dropping spectacle with this celebrated and gleefully visceral samurai epic.
In Shogun-era Japan, the powerful and sadistic Lord Naritsugu threatens to shatter the country’s fragile peace and plunge it once more into war. Determined to stop him at all costs, an elite group of renegade samurai plot his downfall. Absurdly outnumbered, the baker’s dozen of fearless warriors must face Naritsugu’s lethal army in a monumental and bloodily violent showdown.
Miike doesn’t shy away from the cruelty of Lord Naritsugu in the film’s opening scenes. But that only places us firmly on the side of the renegade heroes, whose ruthlessness is justified in the face of such sadism. Lengthily detailing their meticulous planning as they construct a trap for an entire army with meagre means, our patience is paid off through the film’s hour-long final act – one of the finest battle sequences in contemporary cinema. Imagine Akira Kurosawa on acid and you’re getting close to the extraordinary intensity of Miike’s 77th – or thereabouts – movie.