I watched 47 Ronin over the weekend. Universal Studios Home Entertainment sent me the movie for review on my film blog. 47 Ronin is about a group of masterless samurai who seek to avenge the death of their master. The movie is based on one of Japan’s greatest legends. Don’t worry, this is not a foreign film. It’s a western film that stars Keanu Reeves. In other words, there are no captions to read. 47 Ronin didn’t do well at the box office, but I actually enjoyed watching the movie. So did my wife and kids. It’s an excellent addition to my Blu-ray library. 47 Ronin is available now on Blu-ray 3D and Blu-ray Combo Packs, DVD, UltraViolet and Video On Demand.
6 Things About 47 Ronin
The story is based on a Japanese legend
47 Ronin is based on a legend about 47 masterless samurai (ronin) who seek vengeance and want to reclaim their honor after their master dies. In the movie, their master is given the honor of killing himself after he is tricked into attacking a rival master. The ronin are exiled and their princess is given to the rival clan for marriage so that the two groups can be united. The ronin is determined to stop the marriage, but the rival master has hundreds of people under his command.
Beware of the shape-shifting witch
I’m not familiar with the 47 ronin legend, but I’m fairly certain it doesn’t involve a shape-shifting witch, demonic monks and a rhino-like beast with six eyes. These are the elements that turned the movie from a traditional samurai story into one about swords and magic. I didn’t hate the magical elements in the film, but I can’t help but wonder if the story would have been better without the mystical tangents.
The movie is also a love story
47 Ronin isn’t just an action story about samurai without a master. It’s also a love story between the main character and the princess. At least that’s what we are suppose to believe. That’s actually one of the problems with the film. We’re suppose to believe they are in love, but they didn’t actually spend much time together in the movie. In addition, the ending was a little sappy with a line that was repeated twice, “I will search for you through a thousand worlds and ten thousands life times until I find you.”
47 Ronin features Keanu Reeves and a bunch of unknowns
The star of the movie is Keanu Reeves. He played the part of Kai, a half-Japanese outcast who serves the samurai of Ako. The other actors might be famous in Asia, but I don’t think most people in America will know who they are. These actors include Hiroyuki Sanada (Ôishi), Ko Shibasaki (Mika), Tadanobu Asano (Lord Kira), Rinko Kikuchi (Witch), Min Tanaka (Lord Asano), Jin Akanishi (Chikara), Masayoshi Haneda (Yasuno), Hiroshi Sogabe (Hazama), Takato Yonemoto (Basho), Hiroshi Yamada (Hara), Shû Nakajima (Horibe), Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Shogun Tsunayoshi), Neil Fingleton (Lovecraftian Samurai), and Natsuki Kunimoto (Riku). 47 Ronin was directed by Carl Rinsch.
47 Ronin includes several bonus features
The Blu-ray Combo Pack includes the movie on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD with UltraViolet. In addition, it includes the following special features:
- Keanu & Kai
Keanu Reeves, the director and other members of the filmmaking team reveal how this adventure would not be possible without Reeves’ mastery of martial arts and total immersion in the role
- Steel Fury: The Fights of 47 Ronin
This featurette explores the intense research, choreography and rehearsals that went into creating the film’s unique action sequences, including Kai’s epic battle against the silver Samurai and the heart-stopping Kirin hunt sequence
- Myths, Magic & Monsters: The FX of 47 Ronin
47 Ronin’s creative team reveals the technological magic it used to bring to life the creatures of ancient Japanese folklore, including The Kirin (a giant hybrid beast with the head of a dragon and the body of a deer), the Kitsune witch, the Oni troll and the demonic Tengu Monks
- Re-forging the Legend
The filmmakers talk about how they brought one of Japan’s most time-honored legend to the big screen, from script to costumes, visual design, and culture
- Deleted Scenes
- Keanu & Kai
It’s rated PG-13
The 119-minute film is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images, and thematic elements. There is violence in the movie, and there’s even a couple of scenes that involved heads getting chopped off, but I’m fine with letting my kids watch this film.
More info: 47 Ronin Blu-ray