Tuesday, January 28, 2014


47 Ronin, directed by Carl Rinsch


47 Ronin, translated by A.B. Mitford

I watched the movie a couple weeks ago and meant to post a review sooner, but I also just finished reading the original translation this morning and I suppose appreciation for one is stronger with the other.

The premise for the movie remains the same as the original, though Hollywood turned the film into a mythic-fantasy. I will say that at least the theme was overall Japanese = the shape shifting witch, the Tengu, and some psuedo-Oni type beast. I was glad that the film had overall a Japanese cast (excepting Keanu) and that it did remain true to the honor code of the Ronin by keeping the Seppuku (ritual suicide) intact for all necessary characters.

My favorite character was played by Hiroyuki Sanada (The Last Samurai, The Wolverine) as Oishi,
who was the lead Samurai of Lord Asano Naganori. After sorcerous treachery forces Lord Asano to commit Seppuku - Oishi regroups Asano's exiled Samurai - now become masterless Samurai or Ronin, including Kai (Keanu Reeves) who is a strange half-breed loyal to the betrayed Lord Asano.

Kai is a runaway from the Tengu (one of my all time most visited blog posts) and as such is capable of bringing some extra special presence to the Ronin's cause. I found Keanu the weakest thing about the movie but I digress, I did honestly really enjoy the film. There is a slight romance between Kai and Lord Asano's daughter but everything - including the sorcery and spectacular fight scenes take a back seat to this being about honor.

For the Samurai honor is everything and this movie didn't wimp out with a non-traditional ending to the original tale, it stayed true enough to that vision of the sacred 47 Ronin. I kinda wish that they had kept the original method of Oishi fooling the enemy Lord, but that might not have translated very well to an American audience.

Either way, this was one of my favorite films I've seen in the theater in a long time. Oh and one more thing I got a kick out of as I watched the closing credits. There was a massive bad Samurai champion, (he never spoke but was simply a juggernaut facing the Ronin) he was credited as the Lovecraftian Samurai I had to check out the actor on imdb.com turns out the guy is the U.K.'s tallest man. He is 7 foot seven and a half. He was sorcerous in nature in the film but I couldn't really say what made him Lovecraftian.


Paul R. McNamee said...

Sounds cool. Even if they did toss around the word "Lovecraftian" :)

nephite blood spartan heart said...

Yeah, no real rhyme or reason to it.

Adventuresfantastic said...

This is one I'm planning on getting on DVD since I missed it in the theater.

Charles Gramlich said...

I'll have to watch it on rental at some point, or from the library if they get it.

nephite blood spartan heart said...

I suspect it will be at a Red Box soon enough.

nephite blood spartan heart said...

I hear you Keith, its worth a rental at the least.