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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

47 Ronin (2013)


Country:
USA with Japanese actors 
Format: movie
Genre: legends, adventure, fantasy
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Sanada Hiroyuki, Shibasaki Kou, Asano Tadanobu, Kikuchi Rinko, Akanishi Jin, Tanaka Min, Haneda Masayoshi, Sogabe Hiroshi, Neil Fingleton, Yonemoto Takato, Yamada Hiroshi, Nakajima Shu, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Yorick van Wageningen, Rick Genest,
Synopsis: Based on the true story of 47 samurais who avenged the murder of their lord in 1703.  Kai, a half-Japanese who is an outcast, is accepted by lord Asano to live in his domain - while growing up he develops feelings towards Asano's daughter Mika. After lord Kira has murdered lord Asano, Mika is taken into hostage and Asano's men are disbanded. A year later the ronin reunite in order to avenge their lord and save Mika. And now add Japanese magical mythology!
Rating: 3/5
The first review of 2014! and the first thing I have literally watched this year! I know it is USA movie, but at the same time I think you understand why I decided to make this review too. I was afraid that it is extremely Hollywood-ish and I was ready to be veery disappointed, but I had to see it, because I had to see my baby's, Akanishi Jin's, Hollywood debut - and we are back to love-hate relationship - at the moment "all about love!".

The main character is half-breed Kai, who is not in the original story, but how could Hollywood make a movie without "white-hero"? I have never been a big fan of Keanu Reeves (yes I have seen "Matrix") and also Yanne told that it looked like he spoke every line just as it is a total cliche. No changes in his face expressions, no deep feelings, nothing - it looked like he acted the whole movie with same face. His character and story-line is not needed and when we take the main story then he played only a little part in it. Production team even had to make re-shootings, because after the first cut they noticed that in the most important scenes Kai's character was missing from the screen. As said before - the movie would have been much better without this character, especially because they already had too many characters to show everyone's developments and motives.
To me it looked like Oishi was a much important character than Kai, because he was the leader and made the most important decisions and plans. He is a character who had the most screen-time to show his thoughts and background. I would have preferred if he had been the one and only main character, because he moved me a lot more than Kai. There has been discussion about how he so suddenly changed his mind about Kai - from "hatred" to asking help, but he had an whole year to understand that Kai might be useful. If he had listened to Kai in the first place, then the things in the past might have not happened. Sanada Hiroyuki's acting as Oishi has gained recognition by most reviewers, because he seriously was brilliant.
In a way, Lord Asano's daugther Mika was a strong woman, while being weak to her feelings towards Kai. She had enough strength to stand against conservative traditions and hold her head high, but at the same time she was ready to sacrifice everything for Kai. Some people say that Shibasaki Kou also did not show many emotions in it and mostly had a sad face, but come on! She had to look dignified in every situation without showing her weakness, yet she was a young woman who had to see precious people dying when her hands were tied. 
Lord Kira is the villain of the movie. He uses everything he has to gain more power. It is weird that actually his actions were really transparent, yet he was accepted by the shogun. Seriously, everything he did showed that he was the evil behind the things. I would have also killed him right on the scene. 
Kikuchi Rinko plays the witch Mizuki. She was an mysterious character whose motives were not explained - like why she was helping lord Kira and who the ramen she really was. Yet she is one of the few characters that gave the vibe of fantasy to the movie. She was manipulative and had limits - literally she was the one who made the dirtiest work for lord Kira. I have only seen Rinko Kikuchi in "Norwegian Wood" and as you know I was not impressed by that movie. Though the witch's character was really cool, I did not like Kikuchi Rinko's acting and from the Japanese cast she definitely has the worst accent, which is weird because she has acted in American movies before. 
Sadly I cannot write much about other ronins as they simply were not shown enough. Yes, there was Yasuno who even in the end did not accept Kai, and lovely Basho, who might have given a lot points to movie if only they would have been more on the screen. As I mentioned - too many characters, so their way out was not showing anyone too much.
Lord Asano saved Kai years ago and let him live on his domain, but that does not mean that Kai would be accepted by the people and definitely Lord Asano does not approve his daughter's feelings for him. In the movie, Lord Asano is manipulated by the witch, which makes him almost kill lord Kira. In reality Lord Asano tried to kill lord Kira, because the last one insulted him.
Ever since they started to film it I heard stuff about it from fandom and as most people know Akanishi has (at least had at that time) big "haters" community too. I heard things like "Akanishi's English is so horrible that you cannot understand anything", "Akanishi was so bad at acting that they had to shoot so many times to get great scene", "His character is so useless and has a small scale in the movie" etc and all that BEFORE the movie came out. From my point of view it is pointless badmouthing about him. He plays Chikara who is the son of Oishi. It is true that he does not have many lines in the movie, but he actually plays a really big part in how things work out. Even if I lose my feelings for Akanishi, Chikara became my favorite character in the end. Chikara is young boy who wants to become someone as great as his father and you can see that he is just in the middle of being a boy and a man, who is suddenly pushed into action which in every way ends in the tomb. I think Akanishi was great in this role, because you can see the fear and fluster in his eyes - his character was the only one who had never had a true fight before. 
The bad thing about this movie was that I watched it 3D in cinema - if you add the fact that I had not slept a minute in last 36 hours, I did not see anything with the 3D glasses - it was all dark and blurry They did not even have fingerprints on them and for some time I even switched glasses with Yanne to confirm it), so the picture was better without them, but I still needed to wear glasses to read the text.. and now I think why I read the subtitles when the movie was in English?? The tiredness made me do all kind of weird things - like putting Nutella into fridge...   I would have preferred it just HD, because the graphics seemed to be amazing! But it looked like I am watching a movie with 480p.
Yanne was afraid that they will exaggerate with the fantasy side of the movie, but fortunately they held back with it and made things rightly. A lot of things had taken from Japanese mythology and a lot of things were added - like giants and witches, but I remind you that we are dealing with Hollywood movie. To tell you the truth this kind of "adventure-fantasy" is one of my favourite genres in movies. I liked that they made tengus look nice, though they looked less similar to their traditional origin.  
The filming locations included Scotland, UK, Hungary and Japan. The scenes are truly amazing. I bet you have read a lot of other reviews already too, so you know what many say - pointless, boring movie. Of course, I agree that the money they spent on the production was way too much for this movie - you could have done better, but isn't that something we can say about almost everything? I know that it has many faults and only some things resemble the original legend, but I think we should also think about the reasons why those mistakes were done - the movie makes a lot of more sense when you consider those things too (especially American production way of thinking). If you are looking for down to earth and true legend of 47 ronin then this movie is not for you, but if you are going to watch it while knowing that it is HOLLYWOOD production and they did not try to bring the real story to the viewers, then you may watch it.
As I always say, it is up to you if you watch it or not - I watched it because of Akanishi Jin and I was satisfied at least on a minimum level. Though the trailer is not the best:


SPOILER-review
: I was extremely happy when Chikara did not have to commit seppuku, but it was even weirder that Kai had the right to commit it. To commit seppuku was a matter of honor, but Kai was half-breed, he was not a ronin and he was an outcast, who just took part of the revenge. He may have gained recognition from other ronins, but to everyone else he was still the same half-breed. In every logical assumption he should have been beheaded, because him committing seppuku is rather big disgrace for all samurais.  

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