Reprinted from the Independent Weekly

Gonzo Asian director Takashi Miike (Audition, Ichi the Killer) tones it down (somewhat) with this Kurosawa-esque tale of a group of samurai led by Koji Yakusho’s Shinzaemon plotting the death of the Shogun’s psychotic half-brother (Goro Ingaki). Gorgeous Japanese scenery and thoughtful, often witty dialogue dominate the first half as the plan comes together, while the second, involving the actual assassination, is a Miike specialty, a massive battle in a deserted town where the streets literally run red with blood. The title evokes almost double Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai, and indeed, this is twice as psychotic as most period pieces, complete with some genuinely stomach-churning acts of evil and plenty of decapitations. But come for the sight of evil bastards getting impaled with spikes, and stay for a tale of honor and duty. And also spikes.