5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Miike turns a corner, 7 Jun. 2012
This film is both an homage to Kobayashi's classic and a totally different telling of the story. According to various interviews Miike was working from the original story, which gives certain insights into the background of the main characters and their motivation. Unlike SEPPUKU (Hari-Kiri) which spells out the historical context leading up to the events depicted, this version expects the viewer to be aware of the peaceful era of Tokugawa rule. It is also helpful to have seen the original in order to comprehend how the story follows both paths, the similarities and differences. Miike, who is best known as an over-the-top filmmaker, seems to have turned the corner and become more a traditionalist. The recent remake of 13 ASSASSINS started this trend, while this movie went even further. As a matter of fact, this film has more the feeling of Yamada Yoji's trilogy of samurai films from the last decade (based on the stories of Fujisawa Shuhei) giving a human heart to the low level samurai who are victims of their cruel overlords. Starting with his brilliant stage play ZATO ICHI, and continuing through 13 ASSASSINS to HARA-KIRI: DEATH OF A SAMURAI (Ichimei), we see a new maturity on the part of Japan's most well known filmmaker as he changes his legacy for the better.