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47 Ronin – Review


Release Date: 25th December 2013
Director: Carl Rinsch
Writer: Chris Morgan - Hossein Amini [Screenplay] Chris Morgan - Walter Hamada [Screenstory]
Cast: Keanu Reeves - Hiroyuki Sanada - Ko Shibasaki - Tadanobu Asano



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20 total ratings


Posted January 6, 2014 by

47 Ronin Review:

Samurai and pirates and dragons, oh my!

The moment I first saw the trailer for Carl Rinsch’s Samurai epic, I instantly knew I’d love it. Laden with rich Japanese culture, stunning visuals and, yes, the occasional mythical beast, this was one film that was right up my street. Only one thing gave me pause…the casting of one surly Keanu Reeves in the starring role. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of love for Mr. Reeves, I’ve been quoting Bill and Ted since about age 7. But to have a film so visibly based in feudal Japan revolve around a bearded American? It seemed all too reminiscent of the painfully average The Forbidden Kingdom offered up by Minkoff in 2008. So it was with slight trepidation that I settled in, Ben and Jerry’s in hand, to watch 47 Ronin.

As it turns out, I shouldn’t have been so quick to judge a film by its big name! What awaited me was a two hour long treat for all senses. Loaded with gorgeous scenery, ranging from mist-enshrouded harbours to snow-capped mountains and eerie bamboo groves, this film is Lord of the Rings meets Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves! Kai (Reeves) has been treated as an outsider due to his background – the abandoned child of an English sailor and Japanese peasant – despite his familiarity with the local provincial Lord and his daughter. Causing embarrassment and disgrace to his Lord and lands in the presence of an important official, Kai, and 46 similarly shamed samurai are outlawed, becoming Ronin – samurai with no master. Tough decisions arise when the forty-seven men unwillingly band together to seek revenge on their unjust punishment, avenge their disgraced master and, of course, get the girl. Throw in a seductive witch, spirits and akuma galore, plus writhing serpentine dragons and you essentially have 47 Ronin.

Whilst Kai is undoubtedly central to the story, secondary characters come fast and furious – with the titular 47, I shouldn’t have been so surprised – so audience members find themselves attached to a variety of individuals, as well as being enchanted by the engaging villains. Rinsch could have easily made the film utterly reliant on Reeves, with a faceless army of allies to cheer on his heroic acts. Instead, Kai’s character embodies just one mysterious jigsaw piece in a puzzle of interwoven character stories, each man struggling to shoulder their status of shame in a kingdom where honour and pride reign supreme.

Although perhaps not blockbuster material, 47 Ronin will definitely appeal to its niche audience. My only complaint is that after a longwinded revelation that Kai’s prowess with a sword is not just borne of natural talent but rather of supernatural origins, the plot strand is entirely dropped before we can learn more about his ethereal teachers. Other than this, this film ticked every box and gave me exactly what I desired, an escape into the enthralling world of Japanese folklore and legend. Keanu Reeves was ruggedly grumpy, the dragons were beautiful and the fascinating Japanese culture abounded. Predictable? Maybe. A fraction too Westernised? Perhaps. A fantastical tale of friendship, honour and love? Most definitely.

47 Ronin is in cinemas now.


Written By:

Screen Shot 2014-07-19 at 20.58.44

Becca Spackman
Freelance Contributor



    You might be interested to know that a novelization of this script is available that provides a lot of backstory that there was not time for in the movie.


    Well Keanu Reeves was excellent as I expected, he is truly a beautiful man.
    The film could have explored a lot more than it did, but overall a decent enough film.
    Good job on the website as well looks awesome.

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