Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai DVD cover is crap

December 24, 2011

So I’m back. School is done for another semester and I can actually get down to some reviews. Despite not blogging, I did manage to catch several action films theatrically during my school time, namely Die Hard, Eastern Condors, and Attack the Block!.

But holidays are still busy times, so let’s focus on something that caught my attention. the horrible cover of Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai by Mike Taxi Takashi Miike. Let’s take a peek.

UK Hara-Kiri DVD cover

At first glance, it’s a bit generic but I’m not expecting a Criterion or Masters of Cinema cover here. The lame age warnings on the cover are typical Region 2 DVD stuff that appears on everything from Goodfellas (Gangster violence!) to My Neighbor Totoro (Gangster catbus!). There’s some just some really odd decisions on this cover. Let’s examine the most obvious glaring problems.

Bad Compression DVD Hara-Kiri

Well, this is difficult. For those who have been collecting Asian films on DVD for a while this kind of bad quality is sometimes expected, but why is the sword such nice quality? Is it that hard to find a decent resolution screen capture from this film? or a promo photo? Let alone one that doesn’t have some splatter brush on the sword. Eau de photoshop is what I’d refer to this if I was critiquing work at school.

Photoshop dorkery aside, let’s get what’s wrong with this filmwise. Take a closer look to the bottom of the cover of this package.

Ken Watanabe Harakiri

That’s odd. I don’t recall Ken Watanabe being in this film. In fact, he seems to have kept his clothes from The Last Samurai.

Yep. Surprisingly, this isn’t even the worst offender on the cover. Look who we have in the left corner.

Toshiro Mifune Harakiri 2011

Now we have some serious problems. That’s Toshiro Mifune who starred in several of Akira Kurosawa’s samurai films. He’s dead. Did Takashi Miike use some stock footage of Toshiro and shove him into this film?

Regardless of these problems, I took two seconds and fixed this cover from total humiliation in just two seconds.

Fixed DVD Cover
Eh, no one cares about that Empire quote anyways


Samurais Samurais Samurais!

May 4, 2011
13 Assassins Eiichi Kudo
Left: 13 Assassins (1963). Right: 13 Assassins (2010)

Takashi Miike is hitting it big time now. Goodbye are the days of Fudoh: The New Generation and Dead or Alive and hello to the era of massive critical acclaim with his remake of Eiichi Kudo’s 13 Assassins. (One of Kudo’s many’s samurai films…I imagine a poster should also have the tagline “From the Man who brought you Eleven Samurai!”).

It’s not like Japan has any shortage of samurai films in the past decade, as we had Izo, the Azumi films, Kitano’s Zatōichi, the science fiction themed The Princess Blade and Yôji Yamada’s Twilight Samurai which was nominated for an Academy award. But 13 Assassins is different as I don’t remember the last time everyone was so excited for this kind of film.

13 Assassins Eiichi Kudo
Right: Harakiri (1962). Left: Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai (2011)

In usual Miike fashion, he already has about 30 films that are also coming out this year. His latest remake is of Masaki Kobayashi’s Harakiri premiering as the Cannes Film Festival soon. The original is pretty classic to me and I don’t see many ways to improve upon it. The teaser trailer for the remake is quite appealing looking however.

So what’s next for the remake cannon? I’m sad to report it’s a remake of the Seven Samurai. Thankfully, any director with good taste would turn this down as no one wants to be known as doing another version of Gus van Sant’s Psycho. Who’s directing then? Scott Mann. Who’s the hell is that you’d ask right?

13 Assassins Eiichi Kudo
Left: Seven Samurai. Right: Not Seven Samurai

Yeah, the director of the direct-to-video hit(?) The Tournament. I suppose someone thinks this is a good idea…somewhere. I’ve tried to look more into this online, but doing google searches of Scott Mann is NOT for everyone! You have been warned! Anyhow, you’d think Miike who is remake obsessed would tackle this, but he’s got a much more serious project at hand now. Check the trailer for that below.

It might be a trap!

I fully expect an American remake of this from Robert Rodriguez in a few years.