Hara Kiri Blu-ray Review - www.impulsegamer.com -
Hara Kiri
Reviewed by
Andrew Proverbs
on
Hara Kiri†Blu-ray Review Hara Kiri is the sort of movie that you ponder over, rather than celebrate; a sobering and heart-rending tragedy. Like all good historical dramas, much of what it says is relevant and applicable to the modern world.
Rating:
4.05

Feature 8.1
Video 7.5
Audio 7.7
Special Features   -
Total 8.1
Distributor: Icon
Genre: Drama
Running Time: 128 Minutes
Reviewer: Andrew Proverbs
Classification
: MA15+

8.1

 
Hara-Kiri Death of a Samurai

Takashi Miikeís tale of two men trying to save their family is incredibly difficult to watch. Early on in the piece, weíre confronted by a scene in which one of the key characters attempts to impale himself with a blunt wooden sword- painfully, repeatedly. Not a lot of gore is displayed, but itís the fact that this man has been driven to such an unnatural and brutal act that shocks you. 

The story takes place in 17th century Japan, where a sustained period of peace has caused many Samurai warriors to fall into poverty, becoming penniless and masterless Ronin. 

At the start of the film, a Ronin named Tsugumo presents himself to a local Lord. Ashamed that he cannot find work, he requests permission to use the Lordís courtyard to commit Hara Kiri, or ritual suicide, and thereby retain some of his warriorís honour. 

He is met with fear and suspicion however, as this is not the first time the Lordís retainers have been met with such a request. Courtesy of a flashback, we learn that another young man came to them under identical circumstances- a situation that quickly turned into a tragedy. 

The first half-hour of Hara Kiri is powerful and provocative, raising many questions and successfully drawing you into the narrative. The downside of this is that the bulk of the film, told through another flashback, canít keep up this level of intensity. The story and the concepts behind it are intriguing, but theyíre drawn out for an unreasonable amount of time. The real problem is that all the puzzle pieces will have come together in your head long before the events are actually portrayed on screen, and by halfway through the film youíll be left with no doubt as to how things are going to turn out. Itís like watching a train wreck in slow motion. 

Essentially, Hara Kiri is a tale about the personal versus the impersonal. At one point in the film, Tsugumo pleads with the Lordís retainers to show some humanity. His opponent scoffs angrily at this concept, almost as if heís offended by the idea. This one exchange sums up the theme of the entire movie.

Itís one familyís decline into poverty and tragedy, victims of circumstance and the oppressive íhonourí system that theyíre all bound to. 

Without a giant budget, Hara Kiri still manages to build a believable world. The appearance of the film is very bleak, with a colour palette dominated by brown and grey, helping to create a subdued atmosphere. Takashi Miike often uses environmental effects to heighten the mood of a scene, such as snow to symbolise impending death. 

Itís particularly eerie and poetic when snow begins to fall on Tsugumo and the enraged samurai gathering around him in total silence, leaving you to dread what is coming next. 

Performances all around are good, but Ebizo Ichikawa is especially affecting and charismatic as the head of the beleaguered family- his performance is the glue that holds the whole thing together. 

Final Thoughts: 

Hara Kiri is the sort of movie that you ponder over, rather than celebrate; a sobering and heart-rending tragedy. Like all good historical dramas, much of what it says is relevant and applicable to the modern world.






 
 



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