Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on September 2010

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Cult director Takashi Miike, who has made more than 80 films, says there’s nothing like a cinematic bloodbath to help today’s younger generation learn about history. The world got its first look at Miike’s latest film, Thirteen Assassins, during the recent Venice Film Festival. Set in the 19th century, the movie is a remake of a 1963 samurai drama by the late Eiichi Kudo, about the rise to power of sadistic Lord Naritsugu and a suicidal plan to assassinate him. Twelve samurai are joined by a 13th fighter (played by Yusuke Iseya of Shirasu Jiro fame), armed only with a slingshot, to provide comic relief. Led by the noble Shinzaemon Shimada (Koji Yakusho), the band is undeterred as they prepare for battle against vastly superior numbers. True to Miike’s style, there are several gruesome scenes of legs and arms being hacked off. “I wanted the audience to realize that this story is not taking place in the remote past, but rather in a recent past when our great-grandparents lived,” the 50-year-old filmmaker told the AP in Venice. “It is our story, the story of our everyday life. In Japan, contemporary history is something children do not know very well.”