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Harakiri (Dual Format Blu-ray & DVD) [Masters of Cinema] [1962]
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on 11 October 2011
Harakiri (or seppuku) is the ancient samurai act of redeeming lost honour by committing suicide through disembowelment. In this masterful 1962 film, set in Japan in 1630, a ronin enters the house of a powerful clan and requests to commit suicide through harakiri. The leader of the clan is reluctant to permit this as he has been recently deceived by another ronin, who was trying to obtain charity from the house through this way. This ronin, however, is permitted to tell the house the story of how he came to be in such a situation, and a fantastic, surprising, and often very dark story is told. The main character, Hanshiro Tsugmo, is played by Tatsuya Nakadai (who'd appeared in Akira Kurosawa's classic Yojimbo [1961] [DVD]); he really does put in a masterful performance here, calling on a massive range of emotions during the film's 133 minute running-time. Most interesting is how a surprisingly anti-samurai theme develops.

This is one of the best Japanese films around, but has been notoriously difficult to find until this recent release in the Masters of Cinema Series. It was worth the wait. Taken from a new transfer of the film, this looks absolutely amazing on Blu-ray, with deep blacks - and closeups where you can see the individual, sweat-drenched pores on the faces. For those who haven't yet got a Blu-ray player, this includes a DVD containing the film as well, but the Blu-ray version really is breathtaking at times, and I'd encourage anyone to watch it this way. Extras are sparse, and limited to trailers and a short interview with the director, Masaki Kobayashi, but this is compensated for by including a 28-page booklet with a contemporary interview with the director, and a new essay, as well as some production stills.

Interestingly, this has been remade by notorious Japanese director Takashi Miike, into a 3D film (Hara-Kiri : Death of a Samurai [DVD]). It's easy to see why he chose this film as inspiration - it really is one of the best examples of samurai films around.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 18 April 2012
A film that gives you both a great story and inspired visuals, if you liked the Twilight Samurai, Hidden Blade or When the last sword is Drawn you need to watch this but dont expect the same infact its quite different almost anti-samurai but not quite, i will avoid the story because if you know beforehand it will slightly spoil the experience, its very much the story that draws you in and it will feel familar to you as many parts reminded me of newer films howerver Harakiri is the grandfather of so much, watch it and you will see what i mean, excellent!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A superior type of film, shot in a pristine black and white noir, depicting the bleak, nihilistic worlds of those who inhabit the Eastern codes of masculinity, men who brim with those barbs aimed fixedly at the world of manners and robotic deportment.

Excruciating in its emotional intensity as the blade twists and slides within the innards.

A film which spares not one extra drop of sweat within its deft execution. Riveting, brutal, seemingly without sentiment, it drops several human bombshells, ringing with a clear message that life is based upon attachment bonds. As these disappear it leaves a huge gaping hole as it all finishes and a whole where bereavement enter.

Highlights that two nations during the 1950's/60's were streets ahead of anyone else in film making, so far beyond the rest in terms of style, emotional literacy, power, composition and construction that no one has caught them since.

These films travel to the journey to the end of the night and then willingly on beyond - Japan and Soviet Russia - two of the greatest film cultural nations ever.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 8 November 2012
Years ahead of its time and 50 years later still a hard film to watch. Elegantly restrained but also violent and gritty with the perpetual association between death and the unshakable honour of the samurai in 17th century Japan. While not as action packed as some Jidaigeki or the more martial arts centric entries into the genre, it is violent and deceptively bloody for a film of its vintage. With each scene that including violence being visually striking and harrowing. Bleak, grim spirited with a huge existential streak, Harakiri is an undisputed classic of the samurai genre and Japanese cinema. From Tatsuya Nakadai's stately performance to the flawless use of storytelling within a story, to the gorgeous cinematography this is a film with the visceral power to knock its viewers speechless. Harakiri is sublime. Going a level further than that, Masaki Kobayashi's film is one of the half dozen or so perfect films I have ever experienced.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 21 May 2012
i was at uni when i was into my jidai geki samurai films , back 3 years ago.

i was unfortunate to get this film on a poor cheap dvd with bad quality. I knew then i had to get the best quality transfer. it meant me spending £16
on a region one criterion from the U.S , which came with a great transfer and info. And now eurka who are exellent in transfer of dvds, have taken on this classic, something i wished they would of done 5 years ago! but its too late for my region 2.

The movie itself is one of the best movies to come out of japan/asia.. and the one of the greatest samurai movies of all time. You are not reading this review , or stumbled on this page by accident , its because you either exloring japanese cinema , or your looking for a samurai film.
Anyone whos into world cinema / japanese cinema MUST watch this film. Its one of the films that show why tatsuya nakadai is one of the best in his profession, and also why tetsuro tamba is also none the less.

The film is sooo well written that it puts 80 per cent of nowdays films based on the same genre and theme, look amuteur and literally of a really poor standard. The acting in this film is superb , its natural the japanese in this period along with hong kong cinema during the 60s and 70s were a rare breed of opera/ period film experts.

The film portrays the life of a veteran samurai whos life is turned upside down, as peace enters japan. And unemployed samurai roam the streets in search of work. What becomes of this is , poverty and depression. And many samurai resort to desperate measures in order to feed their families, which in turn leads to abuse and exploitation.

The film is dark , depressing and intense. This is not dark humour like sanjuro and yojimbo kurosawa films.. but as kobyashis portrayel of hard life during the jidai geki. expect some disturbing scenes which will stick in your mind.

for me this is just behind seven samurai, in one of Japans finest works in film.

A true classic not be missed !!!

this is to samurai cinema , as what goodfellas is to the gangster genre.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 March 2013
Others have praised this film in detail so I will just add that it is one of Japan's cinematic gems, indeed a masterpiece of its kind.
The Eureka blu-ray treatment is well up to their usual high standard and this is just a great piece of cinema, sure to be enjoyed by genuine movie fans who aren't frightened of subtitles and black-and-white movie-making. Highly recommended.
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on 4 May 2015
Firstly I'd like to say that I found the quality of the transfer amazingly well restored. Eureka have done a wonderful job here. Just so you have an idea of how good this transfer is, go to the 'extras' menu and select original trailer. Watch this then view the movie and you'll immediately observe the differences.

The interview in the extras menu didn't capture my attention as the interviewer appeared to talk non stop while the director grunted occasionally and basked blissfully in all the gushing compliments from the journalist.

The story is heartbreaking and left me reflecting on our own 21century, western harikiri called suicide. No doubt the the reasons that drove individuals to perform ritual harikiri in 17th C Japan are not totally dissimilar to 21st C folks perhaps.

Lastly, it raised the question of how we deal with those, for whatever reasons, who are unable to make their way independently in life anymore. Do we turn them away or offer a helping hand.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 October 2013
Just as I expected a brilliant film. This film is excellent in the way it shows how the samurai lived and died by the code of honour they lived by and sometimes of others who may have abused it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 December 2013
One of the cleverest stories in Japanese cinema. Nakadai's performance is superb - he dominates the film from his first frame, having a quiet command that even Mifune would find hard to better.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 October 2014
This film is definitely one of my favourites,It's ultimately a story for revenge with sadness,tragedy,but also a classic Samurai swordfight duel in it too.I thought it was great.
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