HARA-KIRI: DEATH OF A SAMURAI (2011) [feature]

Japan (MIFF 2012 , Accent on Asia)
Director: Takashi Miike

The unfailingly prolific Takashi Miike returns with this magnificently acted retelling of Masaki Kobayashi's 1962 masterpiece Harakiri.

Set in feudal Japan during a long stint of peace, Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai is the story of impoverished ronin Hanshiro, played with passionate intensity by well-known Kabuki actor Ebizo Ichikawa. The peace has left most samurai out of work and Hanshiro's bushido code states the only honourable end to his shame is through seppuku. Seeking an audience for his ritual suicide he arrives at the house of a sadistic nobleman. Suspecting Hanshiro secretly wants a sympathetic ear and a payout, he tries instead to dissuade him with a gruesomely detailed story of the last ronin to make such a request.

A slow-burning tragedy, Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai sees Takashi Miike (Ace Attorney, in this year's MIFF; 13 Assassins, MIFF 11) at his most restrained. Via flashback and meta-story structures, subtle yet vivid 3D and with an atmospheric soundtrack from acclaimed composer Ryuichi Sakamoto adding to the tension, the film eloquently evokes the inhumanity and hypocrisy of the warrior code.

D Takashi Miike P Toshiaki Nakazawa, Jeremy Thomas S Kikumi Yamagishi Dist Icon L Japanese w/English subtitles TD 3D DCP/2011

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