While hunting in the forest, Lord Asano of Ako and his samurai find a young half-breed and take him with them to live in the castle. Several years later, Lord Asano holds a tournament to welcome the Shogun to Ako. The night after the tournament, Lord Asano is bewitched into hurting Lord Kira of Nagato, and is punished into committing seppuku by the Shogun. Realizing that it was a Lord Kira’s evil plot, the samurais and the half-breed sets out for revenge against the Shogun’s order.
I see only samurai before me.
After reading some reviews about “47 Ronin“, I expected a terrible Hollywood attempt to make a film about a Japanese legend. In the international press, the movie has been mercilessly, how appropriate, put to the sword. Some of the jargon on “Rotten Tomatoes” : cloddish, dour, tedious to watch, a funeral march, humorless as your junior high principal, as Japanese as a grocery-store California roll, Keanu Reeves looks as miserable and bored as the audience … “. And it goes on like this. The 13% score is in that case logical. It’s obvious that Keanu Reeves is seen as unsuitable for this role as a samurai.
Well then there is something wrong with me, cause I didn’t really saw it that way. Personally, I have a feeling that this is just another exaggerated hassle and rabble rousing in a negative way. “Gravity” was praised by the experts and overwhelmed with Oscar nominations (erroneously , except for the technical part of course). “47 Ronin ” in contrast gets the full load and then got slated.
On 3 February 1982, there appeared in the weekly magazine “Spirou ” a new comic hero, Kogaratsu, a samurai who became a ronin, made by Michetz . On the front page it said « Kogaratsu , a comic like you’ve never seen before … “. Since the 70s , I am an avid reader of this magazine, and have therefore read the first episodes with growing amazement. It was a totally different way of approaching a comic and I also devoured these stories . What was so unique about this comic besides the style ? That was the introduction to a unique Japan : the traditions and customs that surprises us western people, the loyalty, the honor, the calmness and serenity, the rituals, the mystical and magical atmosphere. All contained in this comic, and to be honest, I thought that was also present in “47 Ronin” .
This action–adventure film went on for two hours and was finished before I knew it. Kai (Reeves) is a half-breed, half-Japanese, half-British, which was found by Lord Asano in the woods. Asano took him under his wing. However, Kai was never fully respected and ostracized by the other samurai led by Oishi. One day their master Asano is sentenced to death by the shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi and the samurai are banished and became ronin. Kai is removed and sold as a slave. Eventually these samurai take revenge with the help of Kai for what was done to their master.
Keanu Reeves actually did a great job playing the role of Kai. He looks a bit Asian and he also has the right appearance. Reeves really has such an apathetic and emotionless facial expression. But most Japanese people also have that look, so he fits very well in between those other samurai. Besides, Tom Cruise already played such a part as samurai in “The Last Samurai“. And to be honest, I really think Cruise wasn’t suitable for that. That the Japanese are speaking a flawed (although not as flawed as stated) stuttering English, didn’t bother me. You can enumerate many WWII movies where the Germans always speak English with a greasy dialect. Or even more recent in the movie “The Family”, where an entire village in France speaks flawless English. You can be certain this was a commercial decision to keep it English and ask Keanu for the title role.
The film has a variety of beautiful images of nature and the community where Kai resides. Smooth action and battle scenes with other samurai, mythical creatures and magical characters. And a lovely surrounding with lavish and colorful settings and costumes. Various times we are treated with stunning digital effects. The orange-colored monster with six eyes and an immensely dangerous swishing tail. The witch Mizuki who repeatedly changed form, moving around like a flapping garment and adorned with Medusa-like winding tresses. The most successful effect was the low hanging clouds which formed human figures. The test the samurai had to undergo in the forest Tengu was pretty exciting. The grand finale is the storming of the palace of Kira.
An underrated action movie mixed with elements of a fantasy. I was afraid that Reeves would look like a Japanese “Neo“, but it turned out better than I thought . A wonderfully successful film for me.
My rating 7/10
Links : IMDB