2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A Tale of Two Swords,
This review is from: Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai (English Subtitled) (Amazon Instant Video)
To remake a towering 50 year old classic film is gutsy and will obviously bring about criticisms and comparisons. Miike's effort, taken on it's
own, is a fine film, with beautiful photography and a well rounded cast, but compared to the original, it comes up short. Two key scenes illustrate this perfectly:
First, the Motome suicide scene. In both films, the scene is very graphic, a bit more so in the Miike version. But Miike, the clan counselor, Saito, can't bear any more and delivers the final blow out of desperate mercy. Kobayashi isn't so lenient and has Omodaka finish Motome off out of outrage because of Motome's act of "insolence".
Second, in the final scene, Hanshiro uses a bamboo sword....somewhat cunning and ironic, but that about sums up the main problem with the film....we are bludgeoned and pained by Miike's bamboo sword, unlike Kobayashi, who uses cold steel, never easing up, delivering the final blow square and unflinchingly to the solar plexus in the last minute of his film that leaves up, literally, quite breathless.
Yes, Miike's is a solid, poignant film, much like Kobayashi's. Both are broadly paced, meticulous and border on tedium at times, but Miike's is smaller scaled, more of a personal family tragedy, and lacks the ingredients that Kobayashi had: namely, Nakadai, Rentaro Mikuni and Toru Takemitsu, with his biwa scored edgy soundtrack. Kobayashi, on the other hand, uses cold steel relentlessly in his grand epic indictment of a large rigid government that exists only for it's own sake.