Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai
Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai
(Takashi Miike, 2011)
Reviewed by Dave Lancaster
Summary: Takashi Miike gracefully follows up his samurai smash '13 Assassins' with a flawless narrative. 'Hara-Kiri' is a great film.
When we reviewed the original 'Hara-Kiri' (Masaki Kobayashi underseen 1962 masterpiece) it instantly joined the ranks of the true greats of Japanese cinema. After Takashi Miike crafted the brilliant '13 Assassins', it became evident that this was the correct director for a feared remake.
And he delivers very well indeed, putting to rest any concerns. It may not be quite as good as the original, but it packs a hell of a punch and a gorgeous visual style to boot.
'Hara-Kiri' has a twisty narrative to rival 'The Usual Suspects'. The way that the plot unravels and adds more layers of character development is truly captivating upon the first watch. 'Hara-Kiri' should be experienced organically without spoilers.
The less you know going in the better, but for those looking for a general overview it's a parable of revenge, honour and shame that takes the time to establish its backstories via flashback. By the time the blood starts flying, you're genuinely concerned who will be on the receiving end of the samurai swords.
Compared to Kobayashi's version, Miike's dips a little in the middle and doesn't project the immaculate style that the original excelled in during the frantic final act. But that's not to say, it fails. Far from it. This is blistering storytelling, which considering that it comes from the same director of 'Ichi the Killer' is shot with admirable restraint.
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