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13 Assassins: a group of chosen samurai are tasked with killing an evil lord, for the future of Feudal Japan! The first hour is intense, but slow-paced – perked up with some token Takashi maddness / grotesque violence. Then you have the 45 minute long action scene, which starts as a tactical battle but quickly turns into a bit of a generic hack-and-slash – and you don’t see much action, just swords flying and splatter sound effects. Takashi does a good job of playing up / emphasising what outsiders most associate with japan: shogun, samurai, dynasty, honor, respect, code, infatuation with death etc… almost to a patriotic level. The biggest downfall was the focus and development of all 13 characters, which doesn’t count for much when they all have the same outfit, haircut and are pretty blurry in the battle. 13 Assassins is a solid ‘against-the-odds’ type story, but collapses a bit under its own grand finale.

Score: 6/10

Kill Bill Vol 1: (Blu Ray) a former assassin and her nearest & dearest are murdered; she survives and sets out for revenge – big time. Although his style’s not for everyone this Tarantino flick works the audience like no other. It has style in excess as it flips between live action and anime, the past and present, colour and B&W, tranquility and hyper violence… There’s also a load of retro & chic elements such as the unnecessary censorship of The Bride’s name, yellow jumpsuits, and who doesn’t wiggle their big toe when Uma wills herself on? With all the style, story, great soundtrack and violence it’s easy to overlook Uma’s talent, covering everything between ‘broken woman’ to ‘superwoman’ without raising a single doubt.  It’s very heavy on the homage, but doesn’t take itself seriously – what with the limbs flying everywhere as the bride breakdances with a sword in hand! The trademark unnecessarily long dialogue is toned down a bit and the middle part with Hattori Hanzo feels a tad stretched. The music builds up so much tension before the fight scenes and technically the film’s outstanding: the swooping single shot between the main room and toilets (twice!) in the House of Blue Leaves seems effortless. The consistently vibrant picture and near-flawless audio on this Blu Ray make it 100% worth the upgrade. If a gravity-defying swordswoman hacking and shooting her way through dozens of bodies is your thing, then look no further than this. Perhaps one of the best action films, ever.

Score: 9/10