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Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai

Year: 2011
Studio: Recorded Pictures Company
Director: Takashi Miike
Writer: Kikumi Yamagishi

If you've seen Audition or Ichi the Killer, you might sit down to this film having not eaten for a few hours beforehand in readiness.

If you hate Takashi Miike's films but you love the old masters like Kurosawa (bushido, I believe the style is called), you might love it. I'm not the biggest Miike fan but I love my gory grindhouse. So it's with disappointment that I found it was a Takashi Miike film like Love Actually was a Michael Bay movie.

I feel uninformed about the styles of this kind of movie, but I'd love to sit down with a hardcore old-style Japanese drama fan and ask them if this is indeed the dullest movie I've seen all year or I'm just missing something.

Take out all the long tracking shots watching someone walk into a room, sit ceremoniously down and stare at the floor while they grunt profundities and you have a half hour story in this almost two hour movie.

A samurai comes to a feudal estate and asks for the honour of committing ritual suicide in their grounds to release him from his life of poverty, apparently a mark of distinction for his kind. The lords of the house see him, but he has a story to tell, and it's to do with the young samurai who visited them only days before to do the same thing.

The previous visitor was the hero's son in law, and he didn't really want to do the deed, he wanted to ask for money for his sick wife and baby. As honour bounds however, once he's asked permission, he has to carry it out when the estate lords refuse to help him, so he's left with no choice but to gut himself on the ground in front of them.

As the hero tells the tale, it's apparent he's here not for money, suicide or honour but revenge, whipping out his sword and sparking off the only action sequence in the film (and even that manages to be slightly dull).

It's in 3D to utterly no effect except to muddy the already darkly-shot film to near-invisibility. Avoid it if it's late at night and you're already a bit tired, you'll be asleep in 10 minutes.

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