The exceedingly prolific Takashi Miike has more than made a name for himself with his freakier fare -- 'Audition', 'The Happiness of the Katakuris', 'Ichi the Killer' -- but you wouldn't know it from '13 Assassins', his surprisingly conventional remake of a 1963 Eiichi Kudo film and apparent tribute to Kurosawa's 'Seven Samurai' and the like.

There is one unnerving scene early on that fits right into the filmmaker's reputation, the sight of a limbless, tongueless woman writhing around as samurai Shinzaemon Shimada (Kôji Yakusho) is told of her torment at the hands of the ruthless Lord Naritsugu (Gorô Inagaki). It's a necessarily grotesque moment that finally convinces to Shinzaemon to enlist twelve other men to ambush and kill the Lord, and it singularly grounds an immensely rousing showdown in some very real pain and suffering.