Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai (2012)
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|Genre:||Drama, Action & Adventure, Art House & International|
|Directed By:||Kikumi Yamagishi, Kikumi Yamagishi, Takashi Miike|
|Written By:||Yasuhiko Takiguchi, Kikumi Yamagishi|
|In Theaters:||Jul 20, 2012 Limited|
|On DVD:||Jan 21, 2013|
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Critic Reviews for Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai
Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai reveals yet another facet of this always-unpredictable filmmaker: a flair for compassionate, humane melodrama.
A quiet, narratively layered period drama with a focus squarely on character.
Miike can't seem to get enough of Hanshiro's heroics. That's not just visual excess, though.
A 3-D epic that, despite its title, is more of a soap opera than a swordplay thriller.
It's an indelible picture of a cold-hearted ruling class that has allowed self-interest and hypocrisy to override its own humanity.
Audience Reviews for Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai
Now, this was a totally pointless film. It adds nothing to the great original, it only downgrades every aspect of it. The incompetend actors couldn't possibly compare with the standard Tatsuya Nakadai and the others set 40 years before. As a result, the stoicism, melancholy and magnificence that Nakadai, with his characteristically deep voice, brought to the original role of Hanshiro is totally lost in a superficial performance by Ichikawa. The other actors fall short too of their tasks and especially the actor playing the young son of Hanshiro and the actors playing the vicious samurais of the li house. They are all too young and look more like they are bullies in a school than experienced samurais.
The music is ridiculous. Soft piano accompanies most of the melodramatic scenes of Hanshiro's flashback. Now, of all the nonsense to do in a period film with samurai this takes the crown! I won't mention the ludicrously emphasised disgusting sound effects in the harakiri scene. The 3D gives nothing essential to the film; it only distracts with 'pretty' but unneeded weather effects that pretend to give some symbolic significance to the drama. The final showdown at the finale of the original is probably one of the most breathtaking fighting scenes in the history of cinema (it was exhilerating, suberbly acted, choeographed with precision, looked totally realistic and most of all, it worked like katharsis), but this remake totally ruins the actual significance of the scene by emphasizing the melodrama of the character (the 'bad-ass' glances of the main actor don't help either). The film overall gives the feeling of a superficial, light piece to be consumed by the Tarantino-bred younger generations and lacks the focus and the purity of Masaki Kobayashi's masterpiece. The cinematography is very good though with nice colours and subtle camera movements. The overall rhythm suffers too with overlong melodramatic moments and overlong coda after the death of the hero.
I'm familiar with a few films from controversial Japanese film maker Takashi Miike. Last year I saw 13 Assassins in wich he was able to make the best jidaigeki/chanbara film in years. He's now taking on another Samurai classic, one I was very skeptical of since I've seen the original its based on, but had to judge it myself. Then again someone like me would question; What's the purpose of remaking a timeless masterpiece of Japanese cinema? Hara-kiri: Death of Samurai isn't all bad, however it was shot in 3D which was appealing. The film has a lot in common with the original however its more convential and relies on direct dramatic sequences. The fashbacks are a bit dull and it drags a bit. I like the cinematography, and the actors show some worthy talent, but its just not Mesmerising or compelling as Masaki Kobayashi's original masterpiece. Some of you who haven't seen the original may enjoy this a little more if you haven't seen the original, its watchable on a level with the adaptation of a screenplay from a masterpiece retold. But on Miike terms its a let down compared to his better films.
Interesting critique of the samurai codes of honor, and of the society in general after the sumurai historically became obsolete (due to a more united and peaceful Japan). Sad story.
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