Directed by: Carl Rinsch
The legendary story of the 47 Ronin — or Master less Samurai — is an ancient Japanese lore of a group of samurai who were left leaderless after their daimyo (feudal lord) Asano Naganori was compelled to commit seppuku (ritual suicide) for assaulting a court official named Kira Yoshinaka. The Ronin then went on to avenge their master’s honor by killing Kira, something accomplished after waiting and planning for nearly two years. In turn, the Ronin were themselves obliged to commit seppuku for committing the crime of murder. This true story has been passed down through the years, and with much embellishment, has become popularized in Japanese culture as emblematic of the loyalty, sacrifice, persistence, and honor that people should preserve in their daily lives.
In this new interpretation, of the story, the tale is once again retold, but this time around it is heavenly ladened with high-end CGI, something (along with the presence of Keanu Reeves in the lead role which was re-written to make him a half-breed). So here we have a treacherous warlord that (using witchcraft), cause the Samurai’s master to assault him (mistakenly believing that he assaulted the master’s daughter). After the lord commits seppuku the assaulted lord banishes the 47 Ronin who vow to seek vengeance and restore honor to their people, in spite of being specifically ordered not to do that. Driven from their homes and dispersed across the land, this band of Ronin must seek the help of Kai (Reeves) they fight their way across a savage world of mythic beasts, shape-shifting witchcraft and wondrous terrors.
So, yeah, it is easy to dismiss this version (especially if you are a fan of one of the earlier, Japanese versions), but we personally feel that Reeves did a fine job, and that the film makes this very powerful legend more accessible to a non-Japanese audience, hence we are going to give it a pass, and call it a fine job. We had never seen any of the earlier versions, so to us, it was all new, and (truthfully) quite exciting. So ignore the haters and go out to check out this very well-made film enlightening us about a legend from a foreign land,
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular articles and movie reviews.