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On Nov. 25, 1970, at the Self-Defense Forces headquarters in Ichigaya, Tokyo, renowned author Yukio Mishima committed suicide by seppuku (ritual stomach cutting) after urging a crowd of jeering soldiers to overthrow the government in the name of the Emperor.

Koji Wakamatsu’s documentarylike film illuminates the motives behind this quixotic coup attempt, including Mishima’s tempestuous relationship with the four young disciples who accompanied him that fateful day, but as a drama it is on the wordy, wooden level of a cable-channel historical reenactment.

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