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Review: Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai

Takashi Miike brings back samurai movies
By MILES BOWE  |  July 24, 2012
3.0 3.0 Stars


Takashi Miike seems to be single-handedly bringing the samurai movie back to its former glory; first with 13 Assassins, and now this gripping remake of Kobayashi’s classic attack on the honor code within the samurai class. A wandering samurai comes to the house of a feudal lord to perform seppuku and hears from the clan counselor (Koji Yakusho of 13 Assassins) the grisly fate of another samurai with similar plans, but ulterior motives. Miike reveals the hypocrisy of a samurai clan more concerned with appearing honorable, even if it means ruining the lives of innocent people. He tones back his usual violence to examine these men who find shame a fate worse than death. Yakusho plays the counselor with tremendous complexity; a weaker actor might have turned him into a villain, but his performance shows him to be part of a more complex moral web. The movie is tellingly named after the blunt, informal term for the ritual (hara-kiri means “cut belly”) and effectively deglorifies these “honorable” ritual suicides.
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