"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.