13 Assassins (??????, J?sannin no Shikaku?) is a 2010 Japanese-British jidaigeki film directed by Takashi Miike. A samurai epic based on a true incident, the film was produced by Toshiaki Nakazawa, who also produced the 2009 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film Departures. Jeremy Thomas, the film's executive producer, has a reputation for successfully bringing Asian titles into the international market, most notably Bernardo Bertolucci's nine-time Oscar winner The Last Emperor, Nagisa Ôshima's Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence and Takeshi Kitano's Brother. The film is a remake of Eiichi Kudo's 1963 black-and-white Japanese film of the same name, Jûsan-nin no shikaku. The screenplay was written by Daisuke Tengan. The film stars Koji Yakusho, whose credits include Memoirs of a Geisha and Shall We Dance, along with Takayuki Yamada, Hiroki Matsukata, and Kazuki Namioka. It was nominated for Best Film at the 34th Japan Academy Prize.
In 1840s Japan, the era of the samurai is waning. The sadistic young Lord Matsudaira Naritsugu rapes and kills at will. No one can touch him because he is the former Shogun's son and current Shogun's younger brother and thus above the law. Doi Toshitsura, a senior government official, realizes the situation will become more dangerous after Naritsugu ascends to a higher political position. After a wronged party publicly commits seppuku, a trusted older samurai, Shinzaemon, is secretly hired to assassinate Naritsugu. Shinzaemon gathers 11 more samurai, including his nephew Shinroukuro, and the 12 plan to ambush Naritsugu on his long journey home from Edo. Before they leave, they are visited by Naritsugu's samurai Hanbei, an old sparring partner of Shinzaemon's: each tries to dissuade the other from his task in vain, and Hanbei leaves promising to fight later. Several of the assassins are sent to buy the help of a town to block Naritsugu's passage in order to force his route to their advantage. Shinzaemon and the others ride urgently towards the town they have chosen for the battle. On the way, they are met with a few of Naritsugu's men whom they kill easily. They decide to travel stealthily through the mountains, where they meet a hunter named Kiga Koyata who at least claims to be of samurai lineage, and they adopt him as the thirteenth assassin. He helps them find the village they have chosen for the conflict, and they are reunited with their comrades. They take the village over and convert it into a labyrinthine mousetrap with many camouflaged fortifications. But when Naritsugu arrives, the assassins discover they are outnumbered even more heavily than originally expected: there are said to be at least over 200 guards, not the 70 they were expecting. Nonetheless they decide to continue their mission. The lengthy battle follows, with the Naritsugu and his guards trapped inside the village and attacked by the assassins with arrows, explosives, knives, and swords with the exception of Koyata, who fights with rocks in slings. Naritsugu, who has led a life of luxury, is enthralled by the violence. Inevitably, the assassins fall one by one as they inflict devastating casualties on the guards until, at last, there is a one-to-one sword fight between Shinzaemon and Hanbei, with Naritsugu watching. Shinzaemon triumphs, due to the fact that they are fighting on natural terrain and not in a dojo, and then approaches an excited Naritsugu, who stabs him in the abdomen, only to have Shinzaemon return the thrust, leaving both of them mortally wounded. Naritsugu crawls in fear and pain in the mud; Shinzaemon then decapitates Naritsugu with a coup de grace. Shinzaemon dies himself shortly thereafter, leaving only his nephew and the hunter Kiga standing amid the chaos and carnage. Kiga, despite being impaled through the neck earlier by Naritsugu, is still alive, and in fact has made what seems to be a miraculous recovery. Throughout the film, it is hinted that Kiga is not a human, as the woman he talks about, Upashi, is seen in a flashback eating raw meat by a pond, blood is shown trickling down her legs; and this may be due to her consumption of her unborn fetus, an act a demon would perform. The type of demon Upashi and Kiga are may not be evil, but rather like mountain spirits. Upon meeting him, Kiga says he was abandoned for laying his hands on the boss's woman. This statement has two meanings, as he does not say that he is a bandit, mercenary, or soldier, but someone who hunts animals from mountain to mountain. Therefore, by "the boss", he could mean the head Y?kaithe Y?kai were a type of demon from folklore.