Harakiri

Harakiri ★★★★★

After all, this thing we call samurai honor is ultimately nothing but a facade.
-Hanshiro Tsugumo

Director Masaki Kobayashi's Harakiri is a masterpiece in not only filmmaking, but also storytelling. The script is written by Shinobu Hashimoto, a legend when it comes to samurai films, who also wrote some of Akira Kurosawa's most famous films. The story he crafted here however does not lend itself to being remade in different genres as the Bushido Code is very much at the core of what transpires in this amazing story.

I'm mostly familiar with Tatsuya Nakadai through his numerous roles in Kurosawa films, all of which he's brilliant, but here I was still surprised in his portrayal as Hanshiro Tsugumo. The role seems almost tailor made for the older Toshirô Mifune, who Nakadai often played opposite of, but at only 30 years of age Nakadai pulls off a brilliant performance as an older ronin that has become disenchanted with the ways of the samurai.

The story becomes intriguing during it's first 10 minutes and doesn't let up for it's entire running time. Even though Tsugumo swears to you how this story will end from the very beginning, as a viewer you are still kept on the edge of your seat wondering where the hell this is headed. The manner in which he uses the Bushido Code to ultimately not only prove his point, but to exact a sort of vengeance is nothing short of brilliant. I've been vague in the plot details for the simple fact that this story needs to be experienced and not explained. One of the best samurai films I've ever seen, no question.

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