Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai

2011 Drama

Japanese auteur Takashi Miike takes an uncharacteristically serious and somber approach to this moody period tale of honor and revenge. In the 17th century, Japan is enjoying an era of calm and tranquility, which is good news for most people but bad news for the samurai, the class of professional soldiers who now find themselves without jobs or a sense of purpose. Hanshiro (Ebizo Ichikawa) is a samurai who, with no money and no prospects, has arrived at the House of Ii, hoping to use its courtyard as a setting for the suicide ritual known as hara-kiri. However, the ruler of the House if Ii, Kageyu (Koji Yakusho), has been hearing similar requests often as of late, and he knows most of them are emotional blackmail, attempts to persuade the members of the house to give the samurai money. To show what he thinks of such shameless appeals, Kageyu tells Hanshiro the story of one such warrior, Motome (Eita), who had his bluff called and was forced to take his own life with a dull weapon made of bamboo. But Kageyu is unaware of the connection between Hanshiro and Motome, and he underestimates the impact this story will have on Hanshiro. Adapted from Masaki Kobayashi's celebrated 1962 feature Harakiri, Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai (aka Ichimei) was also one of the first 3-D features to debut at the Cannes Film Festival. more..

Director: Takashi Miike

Starring: Kôji Yakusho, Hikari Mitsushima


  • Takashi's film is sumptuous, with rich cinematography, costumes and set design. Half the time it is a game of chess - the battle of wits between Motome and the lord. Half of the time it is a moving melodrama.

    - The San Francisco Chronicle

    27 May 2013

  • What most distinguishes the redo is the often remarkable use of 3-D: Miike turns the format's inherent limitations, especially the tendency toward visual murkiness, to his advantage, fully immersing us in a world suffused with moral and ethical rot.

    Keith Uhlich - Time Out New York

    27 May 2013

  • The endlessly prolific Takashi Miike returns with this superbly acted revenger's tragedy.

    Peter Bradshaw - The Guardian

    27 May 2013

  • A 3-D epic that, despite its title, is more of a soap opera than a swordplay thriller.

    V.A. Musetto - New York Post

    27 May 2013

  • It's superb filmmaking, uncluttered and utterly assured. Miike places us in the household of Li, offering up rich, deep colors, with an almost painterly exploration of fields of depth and volume.

    Mark Feeney - The Boston Globe

    27 May 2013


  • Best Composer

    Asian Film Awards (2012)

  • Best Art Direction

    Awards of the Japanese Academy (2012)

  • Takashi Miike

    Cannes Film Festival (2011)