Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai / Ichimei / 一命
Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai, Takeshi Miike’s serviceable remake of Masaki Kobayashi’s 1962 masterpiece, Harakiri leaves on wondering why? Why remake one of the undisputed masterpieces of cinema – particularly if the only noticeable addition is the use of 3D. Even with the very good performance of Kabuki sensation and drunken brawler, Ebizou Ichikawa as Hanshirou Tsugumo, the avenging ronin at the center of the story, Miike’s version is surprisingly flat. The 3D is used rather ineffectively, with far too many pans merely motivated to include foreground clutter and overuse of CGI snow, which becomes annoying after a certain point. The cinematography, though appropriately dark and moody, lacks the tightness and formal austerity of Yoshio Miyajima’s work in the 1962 original. The lead up to the final reckoning, a fight scene which on its own works well in the new version, lacks the tension that made the original even more exciting and meaningful. At least he’s trying to copy the best and perhaps Miike’s version may inspire a new generation of cinephiles to rediscover the original.
Originally published in EL Magazine, October 2011.