Japanese auteur Takashi Miike
takes an uncharacteristically serious and somber approach to this moody period tale of honor and revenge. In the 17th century, Japan is enjoying an era of calm and tranquility, which is good news for most people but bad news for the samurai, the class of professional soldiers who now find themselves without jobs or a sense of purpose. Hanshiro (Ebizo Ichikawa
) is a samurai who, with no money and no prospects, has arrived at the House of Ii, hoping to use its courtyard as a setting for the suicide ritual known as hara-kiri. However, the ruler of the House if Ii, Kageyu (Koji Yakusho
), has been hearing similar requests often as of late, and he knows most of them are emotional blackmail, attempts to persuade the members of the house to give the samurai money. To show what he thinks of such shameless appeals, Kageyu tells Hanshiro the story of one such warrior, Motome (Eita), who had his bluff called and was forced to take his own life with a dull weapon made of bamboo. But Kageyu is unaware of the connection between Hanshiro and Motome, and he underestimates the impact this story will have on Hanshiro. Adapted from Masaki Kobayashi
's celebrated 1962 feature Harakiri
, Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai
) was also one of the first 3-D features to debut at the Cannes Film Festival.