Dir: Carl Rinsch
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ko Shibasaki, Tadanobu Asano and Rinko Kikuchi
Synopsis: A band of samurai set out to avenge the death and dishonor of their master at the hands of a ruthless shogun
*Reviewer Note: This will be a non-spoiler as always.*
The movie tells the legend, based on real events (most likely with some liberties), about 47 loyal samuri who become ronins –masterless – when their leader is forced to commit ritual suicide after he’s accused of attacking a Lord named Kira. It’s one of the most well known legends in Japan and is one of the most beloved stories about vengeance and showing the virtues of the Bushido code. Needless to say, the ronin go to avenge their lord.
The ad campaign stresses two things: Keanu Reeves and fantasy. But don’t be fooled, despite Keanu being one of the main characters, this movie also belongs to Hiroyuki Sanada (The Wolverine) who plays Oishi. Oishi is second-in-command to Lord Asano and Sanada gives a great performance ranging from honorable soldier to a lost and broken man to a man that will do anything for his men.
Reeves plays Kia, a “half-breed” and as a child was found by Lord Asano (Min Tanaka) in the forest. Despite claims that taking him in was a bad idea he took him in. As Kia grew up he then started to develop a relationship with Asano’s daughter Mika. But their love can never happen because of Kia’s social status. Reeves does his usual thing acting wise so there’s nothing really to say about him.
The other notable face is Rinko Kikuchi (Pacific Rim) who doesn’t have a name and is only referred to as The Witch. She helps our other villain Lord Kira played by Tadanobu Asano (Thor, Ichi the Killer) who is trying to take over the land and then takes Mika (Ko Shibasaki) as his bride.
Kira taking Mika really pushes the story and she serves (next to the revenge aspect) as the damsel in distress, although she isn’t entirely helpless. She also serves as the romantic arc for her character and Kia, which is the only real reason Kia decides to go along on the mission despite knowing the now-ronins never accepted him in the first place.
Getting past the cast, 47 Ronin is beautiful to look at. The costumes and practical sets are very detailed and every time something new is shown your eye goes right to it. The other great part of the movie is the action. Being a samurai movie you know there is bound to be great swordplay and in truth there is. The final attack on Kira’s palace is one of the better set-pieces and sequences. Everything that was built from the moment our samurais become ronins pays off.
The ending I know will have some people questioning but personally I found it bold. And bold in the sense that I’m glad they didn’t try to change anything.
All in all, 47 Ronin is a movie off a tale of vengeance, love and honor. Although not perfect the movie is a lot of fun and has great action sequence to please anyone that watches it.
4 out of 5