Takashi Miike’s 13 Assassins was easily one of the best samurai epics of the modern era; brutal, sweeping and steeped in visual flair. And now the auteur is back with Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai, a remake of Masaki Kobayashi’s 1962 classic drama, and it looks to be another tale of honour, bloodshed and “chonmages” set in Feudal Era Japan.
Oh and also in 3D!
The film screened earlier this year at Cannes (the first film to do so in 3D) but was unfortunately greeted by a few reviews ranging from middling to “not bad”. Miike’s signature hyper-crazy aesthetic is apparently no where to be found in this very restrained remake, resulting in a film that is far more toned down than you would think possible from the usually bombastic director. And with that restraint also comes a completely wasted use of the 3D technology. On top of that, the film also plays out as a homage to an original which unfortunately dwarfs it in almost every aspect.
Does all of that diminish my anticipation of the film even slightly? Hell no. Samurai films (not made by Tom Cruise or - and I can’t believe I’m saying this – Keanu Reeves, that is) are far too rare these days, so I will relish in every scene I can, especially when they appear to be as lavishly created as Hara-Kiri.
From visionary auteur Takashi Miike (“13 Assassins”) comes the story of a mysterious samurai who arrives at the doorstep of his feudal lord, requesting an honorable death by ritual suicide in his courtyard. The lord threatens him with the brutal tale of Motome, a desperate young ronin who made a similar request with ulterior motives, only to meet a grisly end. Undaunted, the samurai begins to tell a story of his own, with an ending no one could see coming. With stunning cinematography and gripping performances, “Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai” is a thrilling exploration of revenge, honor, and individuality in the face of oppressive power.