Pirates, witches, giants, monsters, samurai, dragons, and Keanu Reeves having superpowers of some sort, what isn't there to love about this movie? That's exactly what I thought when news broke that Hollywood was going to be making a movie about the legend of the 47 Ronin. I was expecting a cinematic spectacular on the level of Akria Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, but boy oh boy was I disappointed.
The legend of the 47 Ronin is an old Japanese story of the lord of a village being murdered and his samurai were then stripped of their rank becoming Ronin (samurai who have lost their master and cannot become samurai again). After a year passes, the leader of the former samurai swears vengeance on his deceased lord, and decides to "get the ol' band back together" to defeat the commanding lord and his army of samurai. Seems like a pretty straight forward story to me, assemble the Ronin and defeat the army of opposing samurai. Well, I think director, Carl Rinsch, had some different ideas.
This is where the story starts to take a turn towards the absurd. Keanu Reeves' character then gets sold into slavery to pirates, who looked Spanish but had English accents, and must escape the pirate stronghold to rejoin the Ronin. Along with the pirates there is a shape-shifter witch trying to stop the Ronin (she can also turn into a dragon), and a handful of mythical creatures that are scattered within this world. Checklist of what people love to see in movies: pirates (check), witches (check), dragons (check), monsters (check), ninja samurai (check), Keanu Reeves (check).
With the addition of these different devices to keep audience members in their seats, it makes the original story of the [47 Ronin](movie:27322) somewhat distorted. The action sequences in the film are very well done, and the CGI is definitely worth taking a look at. With a title like 47 Ronin you would think that there would be a ton of fight sequences because it's a movie about samurai. That couldn't be further from the truth. There are only a handful of action sequences that really can be called a fight scene. Every time you think there's going to be a worthwhile action scene, it stops entirely too early. In between the sparse action scenes in the film, it becomes an exposition nightmare. Every actor in the movie is trying to make sure that everything that has been introduces so far makes sense and furthers the plot of the film, which turns into actual acting going out the window due to the fact that parts of the film are not needed.
I was excited about this movie when I first heard that it was being made, but once I saw the first trailer, my excitement turned from "Awe yeah! Samurais and shit!", to, "Oh boy, this is going to be a train wreck." If you are a fan of old Japanese legends and Keanu Reeves, this movie is definitely for you. But if you're a fan of Akira Kurosawa or classic Japanese cinema, I suggest to steer clear of 47 Ronin.
I give this movie: 5/10 Ronin