It’s easy to see why the much delayed and ridiculously expensive Hollywood version of 47 Ronin did so poorly at the box-office. Forget reimagining one of Japan’s most cherished stories as a special effects fantasy – plenty of Japanese versions of the tale have taken big liberties as well and the fantasy elements are relatively sparingly used – it’s the fact that it’s all so mediocre: not terrible, but not good either, stranded in a middle ground where everything is so vanilla and ordinary. You can see where this could have seemed like a good idea several rewrites and reshoots ago, and you can see where much of the money went even though the director does his best to hide it by shooting much of the film in close-up, but nothing really excites. Even the film’s three best action scenes are merely okay, and given that the film hired the best action editor in the English speaking world, Stuart Baird, you can bet that’s because a lot of the footage he had to work with was underwhelming. Despite coming from a commercials background, first-time director Carl Rinsch doesn’t exhibit a particularly arresting visual style, with only a scene in a haunted forest and cave showing a bit more imagination than the often rather perfunctory staging that’s the hallmark of much of the film. He gets good performances from most of his cast, and Keanu Reeves is a good enough stoic hero to suggest that he could have carried a better film (his being a half-breed is never much of a problem in a film that needed a white American face to get greenlit), but the film never truly excites or even seems that interested in its big action setpieces – it even casually throws away one imposing henchman who’s given a huge buildup just at the point it looks like he’s going to face off again with the hero he’s already humiliatingly defeated once.
Perhaps if the studio had interfered less (though from what reached the screen you can understand their concern), perhaps if the original highly-rated script had been kept, perhaps if they’d had a director who knew how to exploit the vast sets and resources at his disposal to their full potential… but as it stands, it’s just ordinary, inoffensive and only barely manages to keep on the right side of being a bit dull. The Japanese do this sort of thing much, much better themselves.
As expected with a flop, extras are thin on the ground: 4 deleted scenes and four brief superficial puff piece featurettes totalling 25 minutes.
The film has received mixed reviews, I base my review on the films entertainment value.
I can say without question the film certainly entertained me.
'Kai' has grown up in the province of 'Ako' a Samurai settlement, his life had been spared
by 'Lord Asano'
'Kai' has always wanted to repay the gesture by devoting himself to 'Lord Asano's' service,
'Kai' a half-breed is not looked upon as an equal within the community, only the 'Lord'
himself and his daughter 'Mika' shows him any respect.
However when a treacherous 'Warlord' engineers with the help of a 'Witch' 'Lord Asano's'
death, subsequently throwing the 'Lords' son 'O'ishi' into a dungeon and keeping 'Kai'
captive and dispersing the remainder of the Samurai of 'Ako' across the lands.
After a year has past 'O'ishi' is released, he now seeks to avenge his fathers death, he'll
need to re-gather his scattered force and will need the help of once frowned upon 'Kai'
But when found will 'Kai' accept the plea of 'O'ishi' to help him face the enemy 'Lord'
and his 1000 strong force.
'Kai' has certainly learnt some additional fighting skills whilst in captivity.
Weapons will have to be found to arm the former 'Samurai' warriors to help them on a
seemingly suicidal mission to restore honour, avenge their 'Lord' and save 'Mika' from
her pending union with the treacherous 'Shogun' Lord,
There are only the 47 Ronin former Samurai to change the course of destiny.
This is an electric action-packed adventure, a tale with 'Monsters' 'Magic' Swords' 'Myths'
An exciting adventure that see's 'Keanu Reeves' return to an action-role.
Some Great 'Witch' sequences.......
Great use of Special-Effects. the film is a visual treat.....quite simply....Entertaining.
Action-Packed Blu-ray exclusive Bonus -
* Deleted Scenes
* Keanu and Kai.
* Steel Fury
* The fights of the 47 Ronin
* Re-Forging the Legend.
* Myths, Magic and Monsters.
* The FX of 47 Ronin.
47 Ronin 3D arrives on blu-ray with MPEG-4 MVC 1080p 2.40:1 encode. The picture was filmed in native 3D. The stereo digital intermediate was produced by Cameron/Place Group and Stereographer John Harper. The spectacular imagery perfectly presents Director Carl Rinsch’s and Cinematographer John Mathieson’s natural, though dusty earthy palette of a time long ago in Japan. The colour palette is warm and richly hued, with strong primaries that boldly accent the picture. Contrast is well balanced with deep blacks. Resolution is effectively detailed, with finely resolved textures, exhibited in structures, weapons, clothing, and human features. This 3D native capture provides a naturally, non-exaggerated sense of spatial dimensionality and depth that enhances the realism. (4.5/5)
47 Ronin 2D arrives on blu-ray with MPEG-4 AVC 1080p 2.40:1 encode. The good qualities described above are present, except the presentation is flat when compared to the 3D version. (4/5)
The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is dynamic with bold, deep bass. The soundfield is actively engaged throughout, with an aggressive surround presence that defines epic soundscapes. The orchestral music score, punctuated by Japanese Taiko percussion instruments, is expansive and enveloping. Dialogue remains clear. This is an exciting and sensitive sonic experience that perfectly supports both nuanced quiet moments and the gripping action scenes. (5/5)
47 Ronin is based on an epic story of inspiring courage in the early 18th century. After a treacherous warlord kills their master, 47 leaderless samurai vow to seek vengeance and reclaim their honour. This band of ronin must seek help from Kai (Keanu Reeves) – an enslaved half-breed they once rejected – in their ultimate fight for redemption. The potential for greatness in this Japanese epic is there, but somehow the editing is loose and it seems that many parts are missing. Maybe a Final Director Cut is in the future. (4/5)
Unlike Entertainment One’s release of The Legend of Hercules 3D, I Frankenstein 3D, and Pompeii 3D when the 3D and 2D are compressed into one single disc, here Universal puts 3D and 2D in separate BD-50 discs with the Special Features in the 2D disc. There is also a DVD with Digital Copy. The discs and code are placed in a three-disc blue Elite keepcase with a hinged arm disc holder. A cardboard slipcase is included, the cover of which has a 3D lenticular cover. Well done.
47 Ronin is a above-averaged epic on Japanese samurai. The cinematography of the fighting scenes is quite spectacular on my 12 foot wide screen using anamorphic lens. If you have a 3D TV, the 3D version is preferred. This set is recommended.
’47 Ronin’ is actually based on an old Japanese historical event when 47 samurai avenged the death and disgrace of their master, even if it marked them as ‘criminals.’ This tale is very well known and documented in Japan and people still visit the graves of the deceased in order to remember their commitment to their cause.
It’s been made into a film at least six times before, but this is the most ‘Hollywood’ version to date. For a start, we have Keanu Reeves as the lead character and it’s fair to say that no westerners took part in the actual event. Therefore, it’s safe to say that many liberties have been taken in this retelling. This point is hammered home by the inclusion of various mythological creatures our valiant exiled samurai encounter. And, I’m just guessing, but I’m pretty sure there weren’t any dragon-witches or giant ogres in Japan back then.
So, don’t expect a faithful re-telling of the historical event. But, do expect entertainment. I don’t know why, but ‘The Pirates of the Caribbean’ kept going through my mind while I was watching this. The whole affair sort of reminded me of Captain Jack Sparrow in the Far East. Every so often there’s a chase scene or a monster to fight and there are plenty of CGI backdrops for us to pretend are real. Perhaps the one thing that isn’t really included is an awful lot of fight scenes. I expected more ‘martial arts’ from a film about samurai, but there’s only a couple of swordplay scenes included.
All in all, it’s not a bad adventure film, but it’s kind of hard to think who its primary audience is. Like I said, it doesn’t have enough fights to be a martial arts film. It’s not ‘fun for all the family’ like Pirates of the Caribbean, so it’s more serious. If you like supernatural action/adventure movies which have had all the major gore and adult-stuff edited out, then you might like this. Keanu Reeves is ‘the star,’ but it’s the supporting Japanese cast that really hold it together.
I didn’t regret watching it, but I doubt I’d ever watch it again. I’ve got a hundred better action adventure films already in my collection.
on 18 August 2014
The Last Samurai meets House of Flying Daggers and falls far short of either. 14 to 25 year old action fans will no doubt love it for the fight scenes, and sensitive viewers may find meaning in Reeves' long stare-into-the-camera close-ups (and there are many) but to me it was just Reeves staring at the camera.
The best part of it was the CGI which varied from so-so to near-perfect. It was so good at times that after I had returned the rental copy I wished I had watched the movie again purely to see what CGI I had actually accepted as real.
on 2 June 2014
I have two simple categories of movie, watchers and keepers, like any true movie fan i will watch anything, if i enjoy the film, it gets a place on the shelf to watch another day, if its poor or average it gets sold on ebay, this film sadly would end up in that sell pile.
Its a strange movie as it has all the elements to be a good film but some how fails to deliver and i hate to say it but i think its Keanu's fault, the rest of the cast are almost exclusively asian and do an excellent job of acting, but Mr reaves is wooden and really feels out of place and shoe horned in places, though it is reported that significant script changes were ordered and this was a director debut movie so its quite possible that the blame for the movie not quite delivering lays with the studio interfering.
That said the movie is well shot, visually stunning with some great sections of combat mixed with some very interesting myths and Japanese legends and if you like samurai movies it is worth a watch,its just sad that it fails to deliver a really great movie experience as it had alot of potential.
***This review is for the film only***
I had heard quite a lot of mixed comments about this film, some people thought it was the film of the year, while some really disliked it, but I do like Keanu Reeves so I thought I'd give it go anyway. I'm glad that I did.
Plot: It's about a group of proud Samurai who's master is killed and dishonoured and their status is reduced to Ronin. Only for them to rise up and seek revenge against the evil ruler and his magical witch, who are responsible
This film was panned by critics and became a huge box office flop but I really can't understand why. It's high adrenaline, action packed, exciting and has some absolutely mind blowing special effects. Ok Keanu Reeves does look a little out of place in a movie full of Japanese actors, playing out a truly Japanese story, but that is easily got past. There is quite a lot of Japanese language and subtitles in the film but most of it is in English so it's not too hard to follow.
The camera work and sound in this movie are what makes it really stand out, the unknown director really did a sterling job here and really immerses you into the magical world of the Ronin.
The acting for the most part is very good too and you really do develop a kind of kinship with some of the characters, which makes you really root for them and genuinely care about their fate.
All in all 47 Ronin is a fun, exciting, way to spend a couple of hours, it's visually stunning to look at and after a slowish start, the action and fantasy never lets up. Without giving too much away, it does leave the door open for a sequel but alas, due to its poor box office performance I doubt that we will ever see one.
8/10 Very good fantasy movie, harshly panned by the critics
on 16 July 2014
"47 Ronin" is a retelling of a famous Japanese legend which has been updated and specifically adapted for Western audiences. This is especially true in the way it adds in the Keanu Reeves character to the story, a supposedly half American, half Japanese warrior with a mysterious background. I can only imagine that the writers thought that they needed a European character to make the story more sympathetic to Western audiences, but Keanu Reeves does not look any more Japanese than Sean Connery did in "You Only Live Twice".
Despite these changes though the film looks spectacular, especially on Blu Ray, with a very stylized exaggerated version of medieval Japan. The effects and the cinematography are all excellent, and there is some effort made to make the customs and mannerisms of Japan come to life. Fans of films like "Hero" and "House of Flying Daggers" will appreciate the look and feel of this movie, if nothing else.
The main problem with "47 Ronin" is that it fails to draw you into the story or make you care enough about the characters. Most of the ronin are anonymous supporting cast who live and die without making any impression. For those characters who are named as individuals there is nothing to make you sympathetic about their fate. The director can do action, but seems unable to convincingly show human relationships and emotions. In fact the most colourful and likeable character I found was the witch, played by Rinko Kikuchi, who is supposed to be the villain of the piece!
Despite a very good start "47 Ronin" fails to develop into anything very remarkable. Without caring about the characters the ending is a real anti-climax and one which makes it soon forgettable. Its a shame as the movie has a lot of potential but it fails to deliver on the initial build up and while enjoyable in places is far from being a classic of the genre.
on 14 June 2016
I really like this film. A lot. I think it is terribly unfair that the critics were so rude about it. It is based on a Japanese tale, and, as such is expected to be laden with myth, as is right and proper. It is sumptuous in its use of colour and the acting is great all round. Keanu's fight scenes were great, and it's always nice to know that if the lead character has to ride in the film, that he's actually very good at it in real life and you're not watching a stunt person. He seems to take the same approach to horse riding as he does to riding his motorbikes - with not much regard for his own safety! Hiroyuki Sanada was absolutely brilliant as Oishi, I always enjoy watching him. So for me, two of the main actors were a definite draw towards getting the film. Films, music, books - all taste is personal when it comes to art. I love this film, and others don't, but that's OK. I'm glad I wasn't swayed by the critics being, well, critics. All I had to remind myself was that they always savage Keanu no matter what he's in. They've been doing it for 30 years now (almost his entire acting career) you'd think they'd find someone else. And also perhaps realise that he has worked with some of the great directors in film. If they think you're no good, they simply don't cast you. End of. Anyway, I'm not going to get into the whole need to defend Keanu thing. Just watch the film, and don't expect it to be a documentary and you'll be fine.
on 4 December 2014
Not the best film expected more from it. Slightly boring half way through film