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47 Ronin: The Oddest Film of 2013

January 3, 2014

47 Ronin movie poster

47 Ronin is the story of disgraced samurai who must battle a smarmy warlord and his devilish dragon lady. Taken from Japanese history The movie has bumps and bruises yet has a personality unlike all the majority of the reboots/remakes/sequels/prequels being churned out nowadays.

The personality stems from the oddness of it all. Remembering the huge box office of The Last Samurai Universal wanted a Gladiator/Lord of the Rings hybrid that would play well internationally. So, they hired an unknown director, a fantastic cast and embarked on a sure-fire international hit.

However, after massive delays, reshoots (Keanu love scene), rewrites (R to PG-13) and rumors (director locked out of editing room) 47 Ronin was doomed to become a massive flop. A cool idea about samurai had been homogenized into bright emptiness via many bad/ambitious ideas.

The film plays like a checklist of obligatory moments. The Samurai do not like Keanu. The Samurai become Ronin. The Samurai learn to love Keanu. There are many cool ideas (honor, courage, 10 feet ogres) but they are very rarely allowed to come to fruition. I was talking to co-writer John about the movie and he said the big moments underwhelmed. Dragons, ten foot ogres and Uber Samurai are dispatched quickly after much build up. Also, The fantastic international actors are stuck with simple dialogue to speak phonetically  while Keanu stays quiet in the background.

There is a 10 minute scene where Keanu goes back to the rogues who raised him to get swords for the 47 Ronin. What follows is a very expensive CGI fight that awards the 47 fancy white swords. Do the swords play a part later in the film? Nope. Do they do anything special? Nope. Couldn’t they have stolen swords from rival warlords and save the time of almost dying via evil bird hybrids called Tengu? Yep.

47 Ronin is characterized by random scenes that never make for a cohesive whole. For instance, the marketing has put a heavy focus on a tattooed Dutchman who has a unique look. However, he has less than one minute of screen time. My guess is that he had a decent role but the entire film was scaled down. The marketing was grasping at straws.

47 Ronin tattooed guy

47 Ronin is a good idea gone awry. Somewhere along the way there was a good movie. I’m hoping a directors cut is released that finally allows it to feel like a cohesive whole. Check out The Man of Tai Chi instead. Keep supporting the Keanu!




8 Comments leave one →
  1. January 3, 2014 1:06 pm

    Its a shame because the clips I saw look interesting.

    • January 3, 2014 1:12 pm

      They look good but there is no narrative making them interesting. It is a lot of cool looking things happening in no particular order. It did make me want to watch 13 Assassins though.

  2. January 3, 2014 3:13 pm

    Good review. It’s not a terrible movie, but it also isn’t very good either. It’s just painlessly dull that’s okay for one watch and then just leave it at that. Anything more may contribute to some killed brain-cells.

    • January 3, 2014 3:16 pm

      I totally agree. It is a middle of the road watchable film that offers nothing new and more of the same. However, I’m happy I watched it haha.

  3. January 7, 2014 5:44 am

    DVD for me 😀


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