Rakestraw’s review published on Letterboxd:
Ohhhhhhh My God!
Masaki Kobayashi's Harakiri is an absolute masterpiece. I was completely mesmerized and captivated throughout this perfectly structured tale of revenge. I was beaming with excitement and on the edge of my seat the entire duration. This would be a great double feature coupled with The Sword of Doom.
The script from Hashimoto is perfection; the script contains not one ounce of superfluous or extraneous dialogue. Couple Hashimoto's script of expertly-paced sequence of events and the way Kobayashi builds an intense amount of tension and anticipation, just from Tsugumo (Tetsuya Nakadai) and Kageyu Saito (Rentaro Mikuni) recounting a series of events and you got yourself a cinematic experience.
Early on the viewer knows that Tsugumo has something up his sleeve (plus it's Nakadai, you know he's going to do something bad-ass) and the film brilliantly takes its time unveiling what that something is and his reasoning, employing flashbacks a la Rashomon.
Harakiri's story, the motivations (Motome, Tsugumo and The House of Iyi) and their reasonings, is beautifully complex in a remarkably understated way; this story could be dissected in numerous different ways and I can see where all parties are coming from...even the House of Iyi - I understand what they did and why. However, after hearing Tsugumo's version of events that led to Motome's decision I completely understand where Tsugumo is coming from and I do love (absolutely LOVE) Tsugumo's choice of revenge - undeniably powerful and perfectly executed.
It's the sort of series of incidents where no one wins.
The cinematography from Yoshio Miyajima happens to be quite impressive as well. The most impressive of which happen to be his dolly work back and forth from the courtyard to inside the House of Iyi, especially during the finale - Hearing the battle that's off-screen while focusing on Saito contemplating his next move within the safe confines of the building. Also, the gorgeous sequence involving Tsugumo and Omodaka (Tetsuro Tanba) first walking through the graveyard, then the bamboo field and finally arriving at the windblown hills to fight to the death...or so Omodaka thinks.
Finally, after seeing a number of films featuring the work composer Toru Takemitsu, I have to say the man has to be the greatest. The score in Harakiri is perfectly matched with its action. If there happens to be a composer better than Takemitsu let me know please because I cannot imagine that being possible. I know I'm late to the Toru Takemitsu is great party, but fuck it I got plenty of booze and a plethora mixtapes to keep myself happy!