This movie is dark. I don't mean in a moral sense, but that you can't see the movie for itself for about half of it. I find it with Miike that he makes kind of empty spectacle movies, that's nontheless very stylishly made. That's true of this one as well. It has two stand-out moments, bamboo blade scene and the final action scene. But it never builds emotion despite an effective story.
This film is not a masterpiece. Nevertheless it deserves 5 stars. The coda is damning. The end battle is tragic. The tragic denouement--death, death, death--is heart-rending despite it being the weakest element of the film. The opening suicide is truly difficult to watch. The film is beautiful to look at from first to last. The music perfectly complements every scene. An incredible, moving, masterful film.
"May well be Miike’s best film, a patient, ominous piece of epic storytelling that conscientiously rips the scabs off the honorable samurai mythology. Filthy with moments of grace, from rain that slowly turns to snowfall to the climactic, torrential one-against-many anti-battle, Miike salutes golden-age Japanese cinema by respecting its heart and celebrating its iconic dazzle." - Michael Atkinson, Village Voice
Unexpectedly slow and hypnotic, Hara-Kiri is nonetheless a fascinating journey, with a director in absolute control of his craft. The script is beautifully layered to bring you a Rashomon-like twist on the otherwise stereotypical "Revenge movie" formula. It's also deeply human, as Miike seems to question the foundations of his country's cult of honor. Superb.
FNC '11 Very restrained and thoughful remake by Miike. Perhaps the days of insane bloodlust and sexuality are behind him as he now seems to split his time between kids pics and samurai films. Film is very well paced and the story well told with the violence being necessary in its small bursts. Film definately doesn't benefit from use of 3-D however.
Not quite the perfection of Kobayashi's original, Miike's contemplative flip-side to his chaotic 13 Assassins is a different film that changes & homages the original. This change which is a callback to Ozu in it's melodrama causes the film to become uneven in tones, visuals, and violence and become more of a companion piece to the classic 1962 film.
Brutal. The elongated scene of Motome's suicide is a synecdoche. The larger, longer torture session is of the death of his son. It's all a twisting blade, showing us a half hour story that's "pitiable" and then slowly building on that event. That's humanism at work.