Release year: 2013
Director: Carl Rinsch
Screenwriter: Chris Morgan, Hossein Amini, Walter Hamada
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ko Shibasaki, Tadanobu Asano, Min Tanaka, Rinko Kikuchi
While hunting in the forest, Lord Asano of Ako (Min Tanaka) and his samurai finds a young half-breed and decides to bring him home to live with them. Several years later when the half-breed, Kai (Keeanu Reeves), is a grown man, Lord Asano is lured into a trap by witchcraft and punished into commiting seppuku. His samurais and Kai sets out to revenge him and save Lord Asano’s daughter Mika (Ko Shibasaki) who is being forced to marry the evil Lord Kira (Tadanobu Asano).
At first look an average action movie with nice swordfighting in it, but it reveals itself as more by bringing a bit extra with supernatural elements in the shape of a witch (Rinko Kikuchi) and mythical creatures. The film is based on the true story of the 47 Ronin in an event that took place at the start of the 18th century (probably without the mythical elements though) and is described as the best known example of the samurai code of honour; bushido. The movie is beautiful looking with gorgeous scenery and the aforementioned mythical elements blend in naturally, but is limited so, it never takes too much focus from the samurai and their way, which is without doubt the main theme of the movie. Whereas I often nudge up the verdict because of a particularly good acting performance, here I feel the oposite way. Many may now think I mean Reeves (The Matrix 1999), who tend to often be blamed for bad acting, but he delivers a very descent performance here, looking the part and feeling natural in it. I do however have a problem with Kikuchi, whose witch seems overplayed and who seems uncomfortable speaking English, which surprised me as I thought she did a great job in Pacific Rim (2013).
An otherwise entertaining action movie with a twist of fairytale.
If you want to read more about the historic side, here is the wiki page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forty-seven_Ronin
The story of the 47 Ronin has so far been filmed for cinema seven times, the most famous being The 47 Ronin (Genroku Chûshingura) from 1941.
Picture copyright: Universal/Sony Pictures