Film Review “Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai”

Directed by: Takashi Miike
Starring: Ebizo Ichikawa, Eita, Kōji Yakusho
Distributed by: Tribeca Film
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running time: 126 minutes

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Takashi Miike is known for his gut-gringing films like “Audition” and “Ichi the Killer”. His last film is an amazing remake of Eiichi Kudo’s “13 Assassins”, and one of my favorites of 2011. I feel that his directorial cred has become really more mature over the years. Though “Hara-Kiri”, a re-imagining of Masaki Kobayashi’s 1962 film “Harakiri”, doesn’t exceed his effort with “13 Assassins”. It is still very intense and really slow-burning samurai action/drama. The story is takes it time developing but really pays offs throughout its very visual journey.

The story follows a mysterious samurai, who requests honorable death by ritual suicide in the courtyard of his feudal lord. The lord tells him the story of Motome, a young ronin, who made similiar request only to meet a brutal end. The mysterious samurai unaffected by this story takes the feudal lord on his own tale with an ending that nobody will see coming. Told with wonderful cinematography and amazing performances, this film packs a deep story of revenge, honor and disgrace.

I must say that Masaki Kobayashi’s 1962 film “Harakiri” still holds the reign as the better film but this one comes quite close. This was shot in 3D (2D version reviewed here), but I saw no scenes that would have benefited from this format and I am a big proprietor of 3D films. I must give credit to pop star Ryuichi Sakamoto for creating an amazing score, which drives the film well. Kōji Yakusho also delivers an notable performance and is a living legend in Japanese film. Since Miike’s last two films are about feudal Samurai’s era, I really look forward to what he is planning to do next.

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