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.