Not as entertaining as last year’s raucous The Man With the Iron Fist, but my 15-year old grandson really liked the film. Enough said.
Let’s face it, Keanu Reeves is a tough actor to describe. While he has a checkered artistic past filled with a bevy of mediocre films, he was the center of one of the most provocative films in history, The Matrix (1999). His role as Neo was filled with style and artistic grace, and he made his mark in movie history.
Additionally, Constantine (2005) was an underrated horror film, though his resume has largely been empty ever since. However, with 47 Ronin, he makes a significant contribution to a stirring Japanese film that has historical significance in that country to this very day.
To begin with, while I liked the film, you have to swallow your cynicism from the very beginning. With the exception of Reeves, all of the characters are Japanese who are forced to speak English. So if that is a problem, stay at home.
On the other hand, like it or not, a lot of movie fans hate to watch movies with subtitles, so Director Carl Rinch was bowing in their direction. Regardless, the plot involves Reeves playing the equivalent of a Japanese “half-breed”, taken in as a servant by a group of Samurai after having been found as a child alone in a forest.
Attached as a dutiful “untouchable” to the military warlord of his district, he soon forms an improbable romance with Mika (Ko Shibasaki), the warlord’s daughter. Reeves, playing a character simply called Kai, is hiding a very violent secret traced to being raised long ago by a forest group of very angry ghosts. On the other hand, he’s not a bad looking “low-life”.
When a ruthless neighborhood clan starts seeking control with the help of a witch, a beautiful yet destructive woman played by Rinko Kikuchi, Mika’s foolish attempt to save Reeves’ life results in her father being forced to commit suicide in public surrounded by his crushed admirers. It is a poignant moment by any definition.
As a year passes, the disbursed Samurai, and guess the number, reunite with the help of Mr. Reeves to seek vengeance. His ghost background comes in very handy, particularly since the diabolical leader of the new ruling clan seeks to marry a reluctant Mika.
Clearly, I fully realize that many of you will be shaking your head and saying that you won’t get near this film. However, I would suggest that you would be making a mistake, as the performances of all of the Japanese actors are superb.
In addition, the costumes are flat-out magnificent, and the special effects are fun to watch. In particular, our witch is a hot, diabolical, nasty little soul, and she becomes an individual whom you love to hate.
47 Ronin has a particularly moving climax that will rip at your heart. As Reeves and his comrades literally face death with honor as a result of their victory, he looks at Mika and says in words to the effect, “I will find you in the next life if it takes a thousand lifetimes.”
You come close to getting teary-eyed, so keep that in mind.