Monday, October 17, 2016

HARAKIRI (1962)

Japan 1630.  Masterless samurai Tatsuya Nakadai is way down on his luck, so he goes to the estate of a local samurai clan and requests to use their courtyard to commit seppuku.  They grant him entrance, but being suspicious of his intentions, they inform him of how there has been an increased amount of down-on-their-luck ronin going around recently claiming the desire to commit seppuku but are actually just looking for a handout.  In fact, they had one such young fellow in here not too long ago and seeing that he was being untruthful, they forced him to commit seppuku (with a bamboo sword!) even though he begged to be let go.  Tatsuya finds this story to be very interesting...

In the extras on the Criterion release, screenwriter Shinobu (THE SWORD OF DOOM, SEVEN SAMURAI) Hashimoto describes HARAKIRI as "A samurai's bitter ranting at his harakiri ceremony, that's it." and while that is true he neglects to mention that the samurai he's talking about (Tatsuya Nakadai) is one bad motherfucker!  I can't say how badass he is without ruining it for anybody unfortunate enough to have never seen HARAKIRI, but, trust me, he ain't no joke.

Exciting sword fights, massive amounts of talent both in front of and behind the camera, strong script that gives you a lot to think about even after the film is over, steady pace that keeps building the excitement, gravel that mysteriously re-sweeps itself after people walked on it, awesome lighting, believable ending.  Highly recommended.

Double-feature with 1966's THE SWORD OF DOOM.  Also, Tatsuya Nakadai and Tetsuro Tanba would face off again seven years later in GOYOKIN, but it's not nearly as exciting.