Principal photography has begun on Takashi Miike’s samurai epic, Thirteen Assassins, in Japan’s Yamagata Prefecture.

Based on Eiichi Kudo’s 1963 film of the same name, the film follows the coming together of thirteen assassins who undertake a suicide mission to kill an evil young lord in the era of the shogun. The screenplay has been written by Daisuke Tengan.

The $6m movie is being produced by Toshiaki Nakazawa, who picked up this year’s foreign language Oscar for Departures, with Jeremy Thomas executive producing through Recorded Picture Company.  Thomas has a long history with Asian cinema, producing classics such as Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence, and The Last Emperor.

The film, which stars Koji Yakusho, Takayuki Yamada, Hiroki Matsukata and Kazuki Namioka, is being distributed by Toho in Japan. Thomas’s UK based Hanway Films is handling international sales.