|Index||9 reviews in total|
13 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
Compared to the original this film is shallow and meaningless, 12 August 2012
Author: JoshuaDysart from United States
Compared to the original 1962 Masaki Kobayashi film this movie is
shallow and meaningless. But even taken on its own merits it's still
An extremely powerful first act gives way to a ponderous middle, where the Ryuichi Sakamoto score over-dresses dreary long-winded sequences. Then it all culminates in a last act that is exciting both visually and intellectually... but completely unearned.
Miike has rarely been able to close in on a theme in his work with much accuracy (the two big differences that come to mind are Audition and Visitor Q, respectively being powerful explorations of misogyny in Japanese society and the collapse of the Japanese family), but when his films are crazed and breezy and fun that's rarely a criticism worth voicing. This time the subject matter demands something more and whatever Miike has to say about the Ruling Class or misplaced tradition or the role of the noble and ethical warrior in a time of peace comes out hopelessly convoluted.
Also, the 3D sucks and gives nothing to the experience except for muddling some gorgeous images with that dark uninspired light that those stupid glasses impose on even the best shot 3D films.
So what's good about it? Well, the projected lighting issues aside, it's a beautiful looking movie. Miike always knows where to place his camera, is never afraid of silence (sabotaged repeatedly by the uninspired score) and the movie has a wonderful seasons motif. Some of the acting is wonderful to watch and when it's being a powerful act of filmmaking, it's mighty powerful.
But here Miike doesn't quite have the right touch. And the lack of dedication to a deeper exploration of theme made the film seem little more than a sequence of events with little cohesion.
7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
On the deficiencies of wooden swords, 8 January 2013
Author: wandereramor from Canada
Takashi Miike's second straight tribute to the samurai genre is a
well-crafted and finely honed object. It's more consistent than Miike's
previous samurai film, 13 Assassins, although that also means it lacks
anything as great as that film's final battle. But what sets Hara-Kiri
apart is its willingness to not just offer a pastiche of these films
but genuinely question their values in a way that is still challenging
to the contemporary viewer.
Through a series of events told partially in flashbacks, Hara-Kiri poses the question of how relevant our values are -- whether they be highly codified values like honour or the more nebulous instincts that guide us today -- in the face of human suffering. The ronin that we see humiliated and killed in the first act is not guilty of breaking some arcane samurai bylaw but of doing something most of us would find disgraceful. But as the film goes on it argues that we should hold compassion even for people such as this, and that honour is ultimately irrelevant in the face of social suffering. In an age of recession and austerity, where so many try to cling to their ideas of what they or other people "deserve", this is an important message.
It's an easy film to appreciate and a difficult one to love -- there's a kind of coldness to this set of Miike's movies that seems out of place with the gonzo enthusiasm of his earlier work. And doubtlessly it will be too slow and cerebral for some. But its critique of not just a canonized genre but the way in which we view ethics makes it well worth seeing.
3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
How The Mighty Have Fallen, 3 August 2012
Author: georgep53 from Boston, MA
Where does mercy fit in with the esprit de corps of a warrior class? Can there be honor without it? These are interesting questions raised in director Takashi Miike's poignant remake of the 1962 classic "Harakiri". This film may not satisfy the audience for slashing, body-count samurai movies because the emphasis is on mood and character but there are a number of things to recommend this film. "Hara-Kiri:Death of a Samurai" is beautifully photographed by Nobuyasu Kita and has laudable performances. Ebizo Ichikawa is Hanshiro a samurai with a young daughter of marriageable age. Hanshiro has adjusted to living in a time of peace. He isn't a wealthy man but seems happy and content making a living doing the odd job here and there. Ichikawa is wonderful in this role giving great weight and humanity to the character. He is a memorable samurai. Eita is Motome a young samurai who hasn't adjusted as well. He has been unable to find employment and so enters the house of a great lord asking for permission to commit harakiri in the courtyard and thus achieve an honorable death. Hikari Mitsushima is very affecting as Hanshiro's daughter, Miho. When I approached the theater showing this film I noticed someone walking away with teary eyes. I can't recall the last time that happened but after seeing "Hara-Kiri:Death of a Samurai" I understood why someone would be so moved.
3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Surprisiingly muted given the original and the genre, 19 July 2012
Author: Hunt2546 from United States
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Miike remade "13 Assassins" to take full advantage of technical advances since the original arrived in the early '60s. Thus it was more spectacular, a great battle movie that put us in the heart of slash-pierce-hack-crunch-and-filet combat.. Of its kind, it was great and the update made sense. The same cannot be said for his remake of the Kobayashi masterpiece, which was intimate, a rumination on the cruelty and hypocrisy of bushido. A nutshell: an impoverished older samurai comes to a great house seeking a place to commit hara-kiri: he's told a young man tried the same trick earlier, a "bluff" suicide, hoping to get money or a job. But the House forced him to live up to his word, even though he'd sold his swords: thus he committed seppuku with wooden blades. It turns out that the older man is the younger's father in law: he's come for vengeance on the house, and (spoiler) after revealing he's defeated the young man's three primary adversaries in single combat, he draws blade on the house and goes down in a bloody frenzy of vengeance. Great revenge movie, but Miike rewires it. You'd expect him to lay on the gore (as he did in "13" and many of his quickie yakuza films) but instead he dials it way down, keeps it somehow intellectual rather than visceral. Sorry, but I'm shallow enough to be disappointed: I wanted to see heads roll and arms chopped off. (It's a SAMURAI movie, right?) He retains Kobayashi's deliberate, almost ritual like pace and symmetrical compositions, but the understated intensity (SPOILER!: the old man fights his last fight with the wooden sword, so he is incapable of killing the Household guard) of the climax lets the movie end without the emotional catharsis it demanded. A disappointing exercise.
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Not bad! Not as good as original., 23 February 2013
Author: Father_V from United States
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is my first Miike film, as I am not a fan of the general themes
and stories that he tells. Kobayashi's original, with legendary actor
Nakadai, is a shining example of ironic storytelling in the
"jidai-geki" (essentially historical fiction) mode. "Jidai-geki", where
it uses swordplay, is characterized by short flashes of action as
opposed to "chambara" (swordplay) or "samurai slasher" flicks which are
all about the action and blood (usually copious amounts of it). I
notice a number of the reviewers do not know or appreciate the
The original's purposes were multiple but most critics center in on the irony of the red armor, which to the casual observer would seem to show the dedication of the house of Ii to honor through the samurai arts. The film shows this to be an empty shell in many ways. It's the delightful sense of irony in all aspects of the storytelling that makes Hara-Kiri (1962) such a delicious film. Take, for example, the story of seppuku told by the high official to Hanshiro. In the original, when the official tells the ronin of the wooden swords, the ronin pulls out his own sword from its sheath briefly to show it is steel. This contrasts with his son-in-law's action, but also with the house of Ii, who talk a good game, but when push comes to shove, do not suit their words to action. Miike chooses to substitute a different irony by having Hanshiro use a wooden sword at the end. This leads to some interesting things. For instance, the best swordsman of the house of Ii present is soundly beaten in his dual with a classic basic technique of a strike to the head (in "kendo", "men") with a wooden sword. This in turn invokes the dual between Musashi Miyamoto and Sasaki wherein Musashi used a wooden sword and killed his opponent, i.e. Hanshiro is a much better warrior (skilled swordsman) than the empty Ii but also better warrior (honorable samurai). It's not that these new ironies are not fun, but the original's use of timing and quick reveals (e.g. the topnots) does so both more efficiently than the gradual reveals of Miike here but more importantly gets Kobayashi's point across more effectively.
Of course in 1962 the wonderful realism and nitty gritty of daily life made popular by Yamada's trilogy of adaptions of Fujisawa's written work (Twilight Samurai, The Hidden Blade, Love and Honor) hadn't happened yet, and so Miike's adaption has something to offer the previous incarnation did not have, but is that trade-off worth the price in this case? Certainly the darker lighting and more muted colors in set design and costuming gave Miike a chance to be more artistic (his shocking use of color in brief autumn scenes and the use of the white cat). Still his desire to create some sympathetic elements in the antagonists (e.g. the official's giving 3 ryo and cutting off Motome's head himself) needlessly waters down the problem with the house of Ii. Other reviews have said that Miike favors ambiguity, but here it's not enough to really create sympathy for the noble house. He should have done either more in fleshing out the character of the head official or less and made the message clearer. It comes across as half-hearted here, when the point is to show in both versions that the honor of the house is lacking.
Don't get me wrong, Miike has made a fine attempt in the new style of jidai-geki, one that apparently contrasts with his usually more exploitational style, it's just not as good as getting to its point as the original.
2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Ritual Suicide as Committed By the Third Dimension, 20 July 2012
Author: Chris_Pandolfi from Los Angeles, CA
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
True to current cinematic trends, Takashi Miike's "Hara-Kiri: Death of
a Samurai" has been released in 3D. There's no real reason this process
had to be applied to this particular film, given the fact that it isn't
a fantasy, an animated family film, an action extravaganza (contrary to
what the title suggests), or part of any genre in which 3D would be
accepted or, at the very least, tolerated. The film is, by and large,
a character study and a tragedy, and as such, the visuals rarely lend
themselves to gimmicky shots of objects flying at the screen or even
creating an immersive experience. Making matters worse is the issue of
brightness. Much of the film is spent within a cramped, dingy home in
which sunlight almost never creeps in; this means that we in the
audience must endure a dim, muddy picture of characters already
immersed in shadow.
My complaints about 3D notwithstanding, I admittedly did appreciate this film more than Miike's previous import, the overrated "13 Assassins," which isn't directly related to this film but certainly acts as a sort of parallel story. I think what bothered me the most about "13 Assassins" was that it was attempting to glamorize a life that, on the basis of what's depicted in the film, was anything but glamorous; here were a group of men living by a barbaric code of conduct, one that viewed ceaseless servitude and glorified suicide missions as honorable. Now we have a film that not only calls into question this lifestyle but also holds back on the gore and violence. There are two exceptions to the latter. One is a grotesque and needlessly protracted sequence in which a ronin attempts to commit seppuku with a wooden sword. The other is a final battle scene, less bloody but again needlessly protracted.
Taking place in 1600s Japan, the film opens when a middle aged ronin named Hanshiro Tsugumo (Ebizo Ichikawa) enters the gates of samurai clan. Begging the audience with the lead retainer, Kageyu (Koji Yakusho), he claims that he is a samurai without a master to serve, and therefore wants die nobly by committing seppuku in his courtyard in full view of the other samurais. Kageyu isn't immediately willing to grant his request, seeing as it's now common for men to enter clan compounds, lie about their status as failed warriors, and claim they want to commit suicide when what they really want is charity. He tells Hanshiro the story of a young man who did exactly that not too long ago; his request was granted, but he only ended up asking for an extra day and, ultimately, for money. An example was made of him, of course, and as painfully as possible, he went through with the hara-kiri.
In due time, Hanshiro is kneeling on a mat in the clan's courtyard, surrounded by well-clad, well-armed samurais. But before the suicide ritual can be completed, Hanshiro reveals that what he really wants is vengeance for the young man's death. And with that, he tells his own story, which plays as an extended flashback sequence. We learn that the young man was named Motome (Eita), and that Hanshiro took him in as a boy and raised him as his own after his father grew ill and died. We watch as Motome and Hanshiro's daughter, Miho (Hikari Mitsushima), grow up together, fall in love, and ultimately have a baby boy. We watch the entire family enduring more downs than ups, as they are poverty stricken. Motome, who took to reading and writing at an early age, is forced to pawn off his beloved books just for two eggs one of which inevitably falls and cracks.
The film veers into melodramatic territory the instant Miho lets out a small cough, and it only gets worse when her baby boy develops a fever. There are specific visuals related to both characters that could have easily been exploited for their ability to horrify an audience, but mercifully, Miike restrains himself; he shows that which is absolutely necessary to get the point across, and no more. Unlike "13 Assassins," which had its serious moments but was much more action driven, this movie is deliberately centered on its characters and the quieter moments they share. Although their desperate situation would fit right in with any present-day soap opera, we at least are given the opportunity to know who they are. We're also made to feel what they feel, unpleasant though it may be.
The film, like "13 Assassins," is a remake of a 1960s Japanese samurai epic, and as the tenor of my review makes abundantly clear, I haven't seen the original version. No matter; I suspect present-day audiences are much more likely to compare this film to "13 Assassins" than to its cinematic source. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I'm strongly advising you to steer clear of a 3D presentation of "Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai." Short of a digital presentation or the celluloid being run through an IMAX 3D projector, you will see only dark images that barely register as having any depth save for a few brief scenes featuring falling snow, which is far more noticeable than all the people and swords put together. It's disappointing that Miike felt the need to do as many directors do nowadays and sacrifice imagery for technology.
-- Chris Pandolfi (www.atatheaternearyou.net)
22 out of 48 people found the following review useful:
Masterpiece. Sensitive and Poetic. May be Best Japanese Film since Two Decades., 23 May 2012
Author: sriram_m from Narsipatnam, India
Director Takashi Miike has emerged and grown as an explosion of
artistry in modern Japanese cinema, from controversial past image, from
international notoriety for depicting shocking scenes of extreme
violence. He became an auteur to write his mark in modern world cinema.
With unmatched emotional intensity, using silence as fierce force, he
got abilities of higher order. With incomparable emotional portrayal,
unmatched visual precision, beauty and poetry, he became a legend of
modern cinema. His style is slow, powerful, intense, beautiful and
spiritual. With Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai(2011) Takashi Miike is
ought to have great respect as much as akira kurosawa got. His style of
making is like injecting venom directly into our nerves, instantly it
flows to our brain, spreads all over the body to every cell of it, and
blocks all the movement of consciousness so potently, instantly. We are
not but to surrender to its emotional potency and masterful artistry.
Suddenly we become helpless and merge into visuals of painful
melancholy. We become helpless as the characters of his movie. In fact,
we are all same as human beings, since the beginning of human race. Our
inner emotions are same. Our instincts are same. But there is awaking
in some souls. They struggle for truth. They need to fight with
brutality of customs, traditions and with ignorance of cultural
madness. Characters of Takashi Miike's new movies are indeed
spiritually awakened, and able to understand the true values of life.
They fight with traditional madness in the name of respectability and
the honour. Ignorance is darker than darkness. It is the cause of all
the misery of mankind. His characters have wisdom of life. They fight
Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai(2011) is more matured than his magnum opus 13 Assassins(2010). Those who liked 13 Assassins(2010) for solely action sequences may not like Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai(2011), but who liked visual artistry of 13 Assassins(2010) should not miss this movie. Final action sequence is unique and unforgettable. People who like gore may disappoint to watch it. But indeed it is a classic samurai sword fight we can't imagine to see on a screen since the birth of cinema, for its classic nature and action choreography. I am sure no one ever composed such a sword fight in the history of cinema. One must prepare to see an epic about poverty and ignorance, rather than to watch merely an action movie. It is very sensitive movie. Legendary music composer ryuichi sakamoto's mystical music made this move as sensitive as true to life, like pure poetry, to create a transcendental experience. Takashi Miike is not only master of swords, indeed he is¬ master in human expression. We can't see him in the shade of his past movies. Right now he is a master. No one can deny it.
27 out of 76 people found the following review useful:
Good to make a remake with a different Screenplay, Howrever..., 24 May 2011
Author: Vaudrey-etienne from France
Masaki Kobayashi's HARA-KIRI is my favorite movie of all time, Timeless
story about Authority, Unjustice, Family and social links, but I tried
to watch this one as partial as i could (well i saw the original 15
times so it's hard but i tried) and the changes in the screenplay are
great because they throw the movie in another direction and that's what
we want for a remake, not the same movie with better technology only...
Let's talk about technology : The 3D stereoscopic experience Ruins the cinematography... when you put off the glasses you got nice colors, contrasts and well balance luminosity... then when you put the glasses on you loose 2 diaphs, the contrast are flattened to the extreme and this is completely ugly for inside scenes... I saw it in Cannes 2011 so it was the first versions, i am sure they will change it for the theatrical release, if you have the choice between 3D and 2D versions don't hesitate a second and choose 2D.
Better be aware : the storytelling is very simple and contrast a lot with the masterpiece of Kobayashi, some who haven't seen the original said that was a problem, and some others said it was the way to tell this screenplay but the original one have to be better constructed. I would said honestly that even as this version is 5O years younger than the original, the filmaking is so simplified in this version that you couldn't tell which movie is the remake if you get rid of the technology differences, one is in Black and white, the other in 3D so...
My advice is you need to see both beginning by Kobayashi one as any human being should experience this story, one movie is a masterpiece of film making and give a great lesson to the viewer, the other is a smart adaptation of the screenplay and gives a great lesson to the characters of the movies, both are good to watch if you are a filmmaker, a movie reviewer or a movie addict.
EDIT : i saw it again in 2D in theatre last week IT IS FAR WORST than the original. no rhythm no conflict too much debriefing than a smart storytelling, run away from this betrayal and watch kobayashi masterpiece ASAP. i can't believe i was too gentle with this one IT IS A DISGRACE ! miike remake of eichi kudo's was great but this is a slaughter.
4 out of 47 people found the following review useful:
Not To be missed By yous inefficients of Bushido's, 2 June 2012
Author: pontificator from indoostan
Well I must say nicely executed (pun entirely intended).
The script starts out strong with the mechanical men, obsequious to their lords.
It is hard to perceive men so rigid in their view of existence, though no doubt they exist even now.
The story does descend to the weepy melodrama, but is that not the fate of all living creatures? do they not seek to procreate? thank the lord the plants obey.
The trimester of the movie becomes improbable.
One wishes that he had armed himself with Damascus steel rather than bamboo. Then surely the world would not have occurred.
But I glory that there are such people that live amongst trees, rather than slewing Dem Deutsch folk. Forgive me for I spake'easy in riddles if not rhymes.
Anyway back to the evaluation: A film not to be missed if you can forgive the middling melodrama and the fantasy resolution. But it works, it works, I still remember it 2 days hence.
Maybe tomorrow I forget the Bushido code. @#$%^&*(()
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