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Yakusho joins ‘Thirteen Assassins’

Film is remake of 1963 hit samurai actioner

TOKYO — Koji Yakusho (“Memoirs of a Geisha,” “Shall We Dance?”) has joined the cast of Takashi Miike’s “Thirteen Assassins,” a remake of a 1963 hit samurai actioner helmed by Eiichi Kudo.

Budgeted north of $20 million, Miike’s pic also stars Takayuki Yamada, Kazuki Namioka and Hiroki Matsukata.

The story, based on a true incident, features Yakusho as the leader of the band of 13 samurai charged with assassinating a lord who is a known rapist and murderer before he can assume a high political post.

Once an international cult sensation for his zero-budget, straight-to-video shockers, Miike has since become one of the more reliable hitmakers in the Japanese biz, whose recent pics include the smashes “Yatterman” and “Crows Zero II.”

Shooting, which has started lensing on a huge open set in Tsuruoka, Yamagata Prefecture in northern Japan, is skedded to wrap in early September. Toho will release the pic in 2010.

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