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3D remake lacks punch

harA-kiri: death of a samurai

(Club, IFI, 126 minutes )

Director: Takashi Milke Stars: Ichikawa Ebizo XI, Koji Yakusho, Eita, Hikari Mitsushima


Takashi Milke's Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai is a fairly straight remake of Masaki Kobayashi's justly celebrated 1962 masterpiece Harakiri, a tense and thoughtful slow thriller in which a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions was interspersed with unsettling bursts of action. Remarkably, given Milke's gruesome reputation, his film is light on fighting too.

In 1634, during the reign of the Tokugawa shogunate, a samurai called Hanshiro Tsugumo (Ichikawa Ebizo) arrives at the gates of the celebrated samurai Lyi clan. He tells the clan chief Saito (Koji Yakusho) that he has lost his employment and wishes to regain his honour by committing seppuku, or ritual suicide, within the Lyi compound.

Saito suspects the man is faking it in the hope of being given money, so tells him a grisly story about another samurai who tried to scam the clan and was forced into killing himself. But Hanshiro knows the story already, and has come to the Lyi because of it.

After setting out his stall reasonably stylishly, Milke embarks on a self-consciously stately account of love, loss, poverty and honour that should be moving but is fairly dull. He displays his usual sadism when it comes to the hara-kiris but otherwise adds nothing to the vocabulary of the samurai genre, and why this film was shot in 3D is absolutely beyond me.

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