Due to the catastrophic events in Japan, Takashi Miike is no longer able to attend the upcoming series. He sends his sincere regret:

“Japan was violently rocked, swallowed by the ocean as the lives of many disappeared amid the rubble. I had wanted to be here with you all. I had wanted to thank you all for coming from the bottom of my heart. But that wish was not granted. It is unfortunate and I am very sorry. Please accept my regrets. But, from this adversity — on our lives — we will all rise up without fail. As a start, I would be grateful if you could enjoy Japan from this film.”

Miike’s latest is an exciting, blood-stirring, totally faithful remake of the 1963 samurai-siege classic from director Eiichi Kudo, and a welcome respite from the typically antiseptic, overly melodramatic TV fodder that passes for swordplay cinema in Japan in recent years. Koji Yakusho (Shall We Dance?, Babel) stars as Shinzaemon, loyal retainer to Lord Doi (Mikijiro Hira, Pistol Opera), who gives him a difficult, delicate mission from which there will be no return: assemble a team of expert swordsmen and slay the half-brother and heir apparent to the current Shogun, a sadistic madman named Naritsugu (pop star Goro Inagaki) who will destroy the country if he comes to power. But after over 200 years of peace, the samurai are all but government functionaries, trained in the sword but without any experience in fighting. For Shinzaemon, however, it’s a perfect opportunity to realize the ultimate reward a warrior craves: to die in battle at the service of your master. So the plan is set in motion: stop Naritsugu’s caravan of soldiers at a small mountain town, trap his men, and slaughter them. The odds? An impossible 200 to 13.

With 13 Assassins, Miike finds the perfect opportunity to prove to audiences around the world that he is capable of a big, action-filled matinee crowd-pleaser, almost (but not completely) devoid of many of the bizarre quirks that define his films, yet filled with great performances, a strong screenplay by Audition scriptwriter Daisuke Tengan, and action action action. Easily taking its place beside many of the best swordplay films of the 1960s, 13 Assassins is bloody, dirty, and downright mean, and one of the manliest, most rousing big-screen adventures you’re likely to experience this year, with an unbelievable forty-minute battle royale finale. Magnolia Pictures will be offering the film on nationwide video-on-demand starting March 25th and opening it in cinemas at the end of April — here’s your chance to catch an early preview.