Directed by Carl Rinsch
Starring Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ko Shibasaki
Review by Jordan
There is something incredibly odd about a Japanese samurai/fantasy film with American-sounding accents and such a simplistic summary of historical events, as if this whole movie is the understudy of the real thing rushed into the spotlight unprepared. Or maybe, though the thought be tragic for any lover of Eastern Eye cinema, 47 Ronin is exactly the movie it was intended to be…
The plot here is unimportant, since the essential themes of treachery, redemption and fate are so casually executed, so the sole interesting element becomes Keanu Reeves, star of beloved action classics Point Break, Speed and The Matrix, slumming it as one of the most worthless heroes the genre has produced. His character, a half-breed named Kai, foretold to defend the Kingdom of Ako from a conniving witch (the striking Rinko Kikuchi, recently seen in Guillermo del Toro‘s Pacific Rim) and the evil Lord Kira of Negato (Tadanobu Asano), gets his fair share of screen time but not once do his actions or endeavors earn empathy or cheers; his tepid romance with the utterly irritating Mika (Ko Shibasaki) being the apex of his uselessness.
Aside from Reeves firmly in cruise-control, 47 Ronin also features some bizarrely swift warrior monks, flying dragon transformations and a severely high use of seppuku; none of it being as fun as is suggested. That’s not to say this is a boring experience per se, there is a certain level of humor and entertainment in the lamest parts, but its certainly an avoidable one – especially when combined with the extra cost and dimness of 3D.
For a lads night where nachos, Coke and banter are also on the menu, you could do worse than 47 Ronin… but not too much worse. It’s more one-dimensional than Mr Game and Watch, the action choreography is mundane, damsels uninteresting and a general feeling of strangeness pervades every scene. There are giant beasts, enchanted forests and armored juggernauts, and none of it makes any cohesive or narrative sense (this point made worse considering a boasting that this is based on a true story), nor does it stay in the memory beyond the jokes it will incite post-viewing.
But still, it passed the time.