There are three reasons why this latest historical epic from Takashi Miike must be considered a disappointment. Firstly, it’s an unnecessary remake of a true classic, Masaki Kobayashi’s 1962 ‘Harakiri’, the tale of a poor, masterless ronin who arrives at the house of a great lord, seeking to commit ritual suicide. Secondly, it follows hard on the heels of Takashi’s last film, 2010’s similarly samurai-centric ‘13 Assassins’, one of the best action movies in living memory. And lastly, it’s the first film in 3D from the world’s most twisted and inventive director of mayhem, and yet it features almost no action at all – even the climactic battle is tame by Takashi standards. Taken on its own merits, the film has a lot to recommend it: the 3D photography is gorgeous, Ryuichi Sakamoto’s score adds a rich layer of melancholy and the bleak, Shakespearian narrative remains gripping and powerful. But for all this, the film fails to step out of the shadows of its illustrious forebears.
Friday May 4 2012