Japanese samurai warriors. Who does not love watching samurais killing enemies ? It is simply one of those moments in life where you feel so happy, and relaxed, when a samurai chop off a hand, or an arm. This might be a better relax method than yoga. In the cinema world, i have a feeling the most known samurai movie creator is the legend Akira Kurosawa. His samurai classics is still today loved by audiences worldwide, and i don´t think anyone can ever accomplish what Akira Kurosawa did with his unique style of direction. Remember 11 years ago, when Tom Cruise became a samurai in The Last Samurai ? It was a huge box office hit back in 2003, and a return for samurai cinema. Even if i did not love that movie, i did like seeing samurai warriors back on the big screen, because honestly, i think most of us had nightmares after seeing Cameron Diaz hump a ferrari in The Counselor. One samurai movie that never got any attention, just because it was a b movie, was American Samurai. Starring David Bradley and Mark Dacascos, it had a uniqe style, with 2 brothers chosen to fight until death, in a death arena with different warriors. It may not sound like anything interesting, but director Sam Firstenberg gave us a really well made martial arts film, with some nice samurai influences. But since 2003, the only place we get to see samurai movies, is releases from Asia. I would love to see a new samurai movie about samurais killing zombies, or maybe even see them kill mutated piranhas. 47 Ronin is a fantasty action movie, based on the legendary samurai group of the 47 Ronin, that actually existed in Japan. But this is of course a more fictional story, with actor Keanue Reeves on board, with director Carl Rinsch making his direction debut. Is it possible 47 Ronin is just what the samurai cinema needed back on the big screen, or is this the disaster you thought it would be ?
Kai ( Keanu Reeves ) is a half japanese, half english outcast in late medival Japan. Kai lives in the domain of Ako, ruled by Asano Naganori ( Min Tanaka ). When Kai was a young boy, Asano helped him and raised him. Kai remained a family member, even if he is not very respected among other samurai´s. Things become complicated when Kai falls in love with Asano´s daughter, Mika ( Kō Shibasaki ). This romance is not accepted, so they must hide their feelings. Lord Asano is visited by Lord Kira ( Tadanobu Asano ), who is attracted to Mika. Lord Kira arrange a battle, between the Lovecraftian Samurai ( Neil Fingleton ) and Yasuno ( Masayoshi Haneda ). But when Yasuno is found possessed by evil witch Mizuki ( Rinko Kikuchi ), someone need to take his place to fight against Lovecraftian Samurai. Kai dress up using the same outfit meant for Yasuno. But when Kai is revealed, the fact that he is not a real samurai, means he must be punished. Later the same night, Mizuki bewitch Asano, so he think he sees Kai raping Mika, but this is not true. As he is caught in this dream, he strikes against Mika, and see this as he wakes up. He could have killed Mika, and for attacking a Shogunate, the punishment is death. Shogun Tsunayoshi ( Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa ) decide that Asano should not have the most cruel punishment, since he is a respected warrior, instead he let him do this in a honor way, by killing himself. Asano prepare himself to die, and tell Mika to be strong. After the death of Asano, Tsunayoshi let Lord Kira take over the domain of Ako. Oishi, leader of the Ronin, is thrown in an outdoor pit, to break his spirit. A year later, Oishi is set free, so he set out to find Kai, who is now no longer a citizen of Ako, because he was sold as a slave. Oishi need Kai to take back their village, from the evil Lord Kira, and to kill Mizuki.
Visually i find myself enjoying the action sequences in 47 Ronin. There are some really cool battle scenes here, if you love asian cinema, and martial arts influenced cinematography. But we have a big problem, and i really mean big. The acting here from almost all actors is awful. Keanu Reeves can be a great actor, here he does ok, but it feels like he is not trying very hard. Kō Shibasaki do look pretty, but her acting skills need to be better, she is not the perfect choice as Kai´s girlfriend. There are other actors that feel just placed here, to fill out the characters. This is a shame, because visually director Carl Rinsch have a great idea, and he does know what he is doing on that level. I might sound negative earlier, but let's turn the page. 47 Ronin is a cool samurai action movie, as long as you don't focus on the plot. Because the story is not very deep, even if they try to tell the story in a serious way. The action sequences have some nice treats and look good also, for the most part. 47 Ronin became the biggest box office flop of 2013, maybe people had too high expectations on this adaption. I still enjoy 47 Ronin for what this is, an action movie made for fans of asian martial arts cinema. Now excuse me, i have to use my samurai sword and kill a demon, or wait, is that my neighbour ? Oh well, lets slice first, and i will find out later.