Curiously missing from many top ten lists of last year was Takashi Miike's “13 Assassins,” his sweeping ode to the samurai epic with enough stunning imagery and action to match its thematically rich story. The prolific director is occasionally known for tossing off films with a whiff of exercise and effort (read: “Ninja Kids!!!”), but that film displayed such mastery behind the camera, including a final 45-minute battle of incredible geography and flow, that one couldn't help but be blown away. Now, Punch Drunk Critics has dug up news of his latest project, an adaptation of the best-selling graphic novel “Aku No Kyoten” ("Lesson of the Evil"), and those who are new to Miike's wonderfully diverse filmography are sure to be surprised while his other fans crack a giant grin.
The adaptation, set to shoot in April this year, marks the reunion between actor Hideaki Ito and Miike, last seen working together in the fun-but-flawed “Sukiyaki Western Django.” In the new film, Ito plays Hasumi Seiji, a popular high school teacher flawed by psychopathic tendencies, who notices a rise in bullying and bad behavior among the student body. Naturally, he decides the best punishment for the offenders would be to kill them all, most likely in increasingly horrible ways not fully explored in “Ichi the Killer.”
Regardless of the subject matter in Miike's films, there is always a delightful mix of black humor and visual insanity coursing through his work, and “Lesson of the Evil” sounds like a prime playground for those elements. The film is aiming for a November release in Japan after a premiere at the August Venice International Film Fest, and considering Miike will probably shoot two or three films on the side during that gap, that's an easily obtainable goal for the director.
Such quality distributors as Magnet Releasing (who distributed “13 Assassins”) and Alamo Drafthouse were created specifically for this sort of fare, so those stateside can probably expect a VOD/limited theatrical run early next year, which is about par for Miike's films these days.