In the dying years of the Shogunate, the council of elders decide they must act against Lord Naritsugu who is the present
Shogun's favoured successor, a position which allows him to behave as he will. They instruct a retired samurai to assemble
a team to make him disappear when he next returns to his domain. He does this even though a former dear colleague is now the head of Naritsugu's troops. His usual route to his domain is blocked by a nobleman who resents his behaviour so he
has to detour but is then persuaded to take a less direct route which throws the assassins' plans out. They go cross country
but get lost until they meet up with an outlaw who leads them over the hills to the town of Ochiai through which Lord Naritsugu musr pass. They chase the inhabitants out and fortify the town so that when he turns up with his escort of 200 men they are able to isolate them into smaller groups and mayhem ensues. During the extended fight, the assassins are
killed off one by one until only three remain though by now they are fighting near enough the same number. The lead
assassin fights and kills his former friend and then the evil lord before dying from his wounds. This leaves his young protege and the outlaw who has become the unfficial 13th assassin alive in the ruins of the town. A slowish build-up though not
without interest is more than offset by the prolonged battle in the final reels. Brilliently executed.