Japanese director Takashi Miike is among the most prolific directors working today, and has held that distinction for many years. With that prolific work habit comes a rather spotty track record, and for every great Miike film there are a couple middling efforts and often one really bad one.

So which one is Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai? The film is Miike’s second period samurai remake in recent years, following his truly excellent 13 Assassins. The latter movie is one of Miike’s best, so there were pretty heavy expectations on this remake of Masaki Kobayashi’s 1962 film Harakiri. But reviews out of the film’s first appearance on the festival circuit weren’t great. Was the chilly reception thanks to over-inflated expectations in the wake of 13 Assassins, or is Hara-Kiri just one of Miike’s middling efforts?

The movie was Miike’s first in 3D, and the trailer is rather nice-looking, especially in some of the duel sequences. Check it out below.

That’s a well-cut trailer for a film that has been reported to be a bit dull. Miike is almost always good for an exciting sequence or two, and there’s clearly enough material to cut into a compelling two and a half-minute presentation. It’s enough to make me want to catch the full film, despite the reviews.

Apple has the trailer. Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai hits VOD July 18th, and opens in 3D in New York and LA July 20th.

From visionary auteur Takashi Miike (13 ASSASSINS) comes the story of a mysterious samurai who arrives at the doorstep of his feudal lord, requesting an honorable death by ritual suicide in his courtyard. The lord threatens him with the brutal tale of Motome, a desperate young ronin who made a similar request with ulterior motives, only to meet a grisly end. Undaunted, the samurai begins to tell a story of his own, with an ending no one could see coming. With stunning cinematography and gripping performances, HARA-KIRI: DEATH OF A SAMURAI is a thrilling exploration of revenge, honor, and individuality in the face of oppressive power.

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